Caring for your pet's teeth is an important part of their oral and overall health. In today's post, our Fairfield, NJ vets discuss some common signs and types of pet dental problems.
Dental Care for Pets
Keeping your pet's mouth clean is essential to their overall well-being, but most pets don't receive the dental health care they need to keep their teeth and gums healthy.
In fact, our Fairfield, NJ veterinarians frequently see pets develop signs of periodontal disease (gum disease) or other dental issues by the age of three. This early onset of dental disease can have serious long-term consequences for their health.
The best way to ensure your pet maintains oral health is to combine at-home dental care with an annual professional dental exam.
How can I tell if my pet has a dental issue?
It isn't always easy to spot early signs of dental health issues in pets, however, if you notice any of the following it is time to arrange an appointment with your vet:
- Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
- Bleeding around the mouth
- Swelling or pain in or around the mouth
- Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
- Excess drooling or blood in drool
- Discolored teeth
- Loose or broken teeth
- Bad breath
- Dropping food
- Chewing on one side
Common pet Dental Issues
1. Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a condition that occurs when plaque accumulates excessively on your dog's teeth. If plaque (a thin, sticky film of bacteria) is not removed on a regular basis, it can harden into calculus or tartar, which is more difficult to remove.
Tartar buildup causes pockets to form between your pet's teeth and gum line where infection can develop. If gum disease isn't treated eventually your pet's teeth can become loose and fall out.
2. Oral Infections
With periodontal disease, the open space around the tooth roots can become filled with bacteria, leading to an infection. This infection can cause a good deal of pain for your pet and can result in a tooth root abscess.
Aside from the negative effects on oral health, a tooth infection can also have a negative impact on your pet's overall health. Periodontal disease and heart disease have been linked in pets, just as they have in humans. This is due to bacteria entering the bloodstream from the mouth, causing heart function to suffer and other organs to malfunction. These health concerns are in addition to the more visible issue of pain caused by eroded gums and missing or damaged teeth.
3. Tooth Fractures
We all know how much pets enjoy chewing! However, as a pet parent, you should be aware that chewing on certain items, such as bones or very hard plastic, can fracture or break your pup's teeth. Tooth fractures are also more likely when your pet chews on something too large for their mouth.
When selecting chew toys be sure to pick something that is an appropriate size and material for your pet. Speak to your vet about what they would recommend.
4. Retained Baby Teeth
Baby teeth are present in all puppies (also called deciduous teeth). In most cases, your pet's teeth will fall out by the time he or she is 6 months old. Some teeth, however, will remain in some cases. This can result in overcrowding, which can lead to extra plaque buildup and make cleaning your pup's mouth more difficult.
Typically, your vet will recommend these teeth be removed under anesthetic to prevent future issues. Many vets will do this when the pet is already under anesthesia for a spay or neuter.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.