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Like humans, your pets should receive regular dental check-ups. They can suffer from a build up of tartar and plaque, gingivitis, cavities and broken teeth and a frighteningly high number of our pets are in urgent need of dental treatment. Many owners do not realise that their pet has a problem with their teeth until the dental disease is very severe and the only option is to have several teeth removed. Regular checking of the teeth and some means of dental hygeine can help prevent problems and ensure we detect any exisiting problems as soon as possible to allow effective treatment.
The pictures below show a dog's teeth with advanced plaque accumulation and again after a thorough scale and polish by the vet under general aneasthetic. As you can see, even a horrible looking mouth can be completely salvaged if caught early enough.
Dental disease is not only a localised oral problem causing pain and halitosis in the mouth but it can cause other systemic disease. Infection can spread from the mouth to most other body organs including Kidneys, Lungs, Liver and even the heart causing valve disease and sometimes leading to congestive heart failure.
The best way to combat dental disease is a combined approach with the vet and the owner working together to prevent and treat the causes.
Simply using a dental chew is not enough. Proper treatment of any existing disease followed by a combined preventive approach (ideally including brushing) is the best way forwards.
It is important to remember that most dental disease is treatable. Certainly the vast majority of the disease is preventable.
It is not always easy to see dental disease and we really have to go looking for it.
Below is a picture of a some healthy canine teeth. Teeth are creamy white in colour, gums are pale pink, there is no redness around the gumline and no plaque or tartar on the tooth surface
Below is a picture of some canine teeth with marked plaque and tartar accumulation and gingivitis. These teeth may still be salvageable with prompt veterinary intervention and follow-up preventative treatment.
Below is a picture of a canine tooth which is beyond salvage and will need to be removed. It has severe gum rescession and much of the root is exposed. This will be extremely painful and should be removed ASAP.
Pictures courtesy of petsmile.org