For the duration of February, Pet Dental Health Month, Lakeside Animal Hospital is handing out free “Dental Curbside Goodie Bags” when you bring in your pet for their curbside appointment.
The bags include a squeaky toy named Mr. Squeakems, a cat or dog dental chew sample, a scratch-off to win a bottle of Oravet Dental Water Additive, and more!
Your Pet’s Mouth
Dental (or periodontal) health is vital to the overall health of your pet. Without teeth, pets may require special diets tailored for their chewing needs. Awareness of dental anatomy, disease progression, and dental care options build a foundation for better dental health and promoting optimal health for your pet.
The oral cavity of the adult dog consists of 42 teeth total: 12 incisors, 4 canines, 16 premolars, 2 top molars, and 3 lower molars. Adult cats contain 30 teeth: 12 incisors, 4 canines, 3 top premolars, 2 lower premolars, and 4 molars. Immature dogs and cats have deciduous or baby teeth which will be shed to make room for the eruption of adult teeth. Some breeds of dogs are more prone to retain baby teeth that may contribute to plaque accumulation and the development of progressive periodontal disease.
Dental disease is commonly referred to as periodontal disease and refers to the tooth plus the surrounding structures. According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) by 2 years of age, approximately 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some form of periodontal disease. Contributing factors to dental disease include but are not limited to issues such as tooth crowding, malocclusion, disease like diabetes, kidney disease, FIV, FeLV, and diet. These factors contribute to periodontal disease by promoting plaque (bacteria) formation or altering the immune response to plaque. A majority of pets with dental or periodontal disease show no signs of disease. Plaque, the precursor to more advanced periodontal disease, is not always visible.
Periodontal disease has two distinct phases: Gingivitis and Periodontitis. Gingivitis describes inflammation of the gingiva or gum tissue. During this stage, there is no attachment or bone loss at or below the gumline. Gingivitis is considered reversible with proper care and is called Stage 1 of Periodontal Disease. As gingivitis worsens and bacteria continues to accumulate above and below the gumline, periodontitis forms. Periodontitis is inflammation of the non-gingival tissue surrounding the tooth and is considered irreversible but can be managed through intensive and consistent dental care. Periodontitis is recognized as Stages 2, 3, and 4 of Periodontal Disease directly related to the amount of inflammation, attachment, and bone loss present in the oral cavity.
Professional intervention may be warranted despite the best of home care. Professional intervention may be referred to as a dental prophylaxis, prophy, dental cleaning, or simply a dental and requires the animal to be anesthetized. Dental prophylaxis involves a series of steps: 1) evaluation of the oral cavity for abnormalities; 2) measuring of pockets between the tooth and gum tissue illustrating structural damage; 3) the removal of plaque and tartar or calculus; 4) the polishing of each tooth to negate enamel damage; 5) irrigation of the structures below the gumline; and 6) the application of anti-plague substances for protection. Dental radiographs are performed as part of the procedure to further monitor structural health below the gumline.
Dental care is a priority starting early in the pet’s life and remaining throughout their adult life. Home care consists of brushing the teeth, giving dental chews daily designed to clean the teeth, or using water additives formulated to interact with water providing some action against plaque formation. The goal of these preventative methods is to reduce plaque (and tartar if labeled), freshen breath, and protect the periodontal tissues from damage caused by plaque accumulation. An annual examination is also part of keeping your pet happy and healthy.