Bad breath in older cats and dog sis often observed by their owner. It is possible that this smell is caused by periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease affects the tissues surrounding the teeth, such as the gums, the dental cementum and the ligament between the tooth and jaw bone. Damages to those structures are usually caused by plaque and tartar (also called calculus) on the teeth. Plaque is a thin white film composed mainly of bacteria. The calcification of this film takes a more brownish color and is what we call tartar.
In addition to damages to the periodontal structures, such as inflammation of the gums, loss of gingival attachment and bone loss, bacteria from plaque and tartar can enter the blood and reach other organs.
If signs of periodontal disease are observed (bad breath, difficulty to eat, reluctance to chew toys, diminished energy), a dental exam should enable us to detect the specific problem at the root of this disease. A following exam under anesthesia is often needed for a more precise exam of the teeth and gums to be performed. Dental radiographs can also be needed to evaluate potential bone loss or problems associated with the roots of teeth. All this information help us determine if some teeth need to be removed in addition to dental cleaning. Dental cleaning is both a preventative and curative procedure as it helps reestablish the bond between teeth and gums and enables us to avoid the problems associated with the accumulation of tartar.
Once dental cleaning has been performed, it is important to prevent further tartar accumulation. Ideally, regular tooth brushing should be done at home to do so. Toothpaste and toothbrushes specifically made for animals should be used.
Tooth brushing should be done every day or every two days to remove plaque before it becomes tartar. Some diets are also specially made to prevent the accumulation of tartar.
Some chewing toys and treats can also help prevent the accumulation of tartar.
Your animal deserves the best! Contact us to learn the best way to prevent periodontal disease and keep them smiling.