Healthy Teeth – Healthy Pets

Stinky dog and cat breath not only smells bad but it can also be an indication of a serious problem. 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show some signs of oral disease by the age of three. We here at The Animal Hospital of Waynesville want to help keep your pet’s teeth healthy.

Below is some information regarding dental disease and how it can affect your pet.

Facts to Chew On –
  • Dogs have 28 “baby” teeth and 42 permanent teeth.
  • Cats have 26 “baby” teeth and 30 permanent teeth.
  • 80% of dogs and 70% of cats start showing signs of oral/dental disease as early as age of 3.
  • Common signs of dental disease include bad breath, pawing at the face or around the mouth, acting depressed, and/or a change in eating/chewing habits.
  • Dental disease does not just affect your pet’s mouth, but it can affect other organs such as the heart, lung, liver and kidneys.

Dental Disease

  • It all begins with a buildup of bacteria combined with saliva and food debris.
  • Bacteria collects and causes a soft film to form across the teeth called plaque.
  • As the old bacteria dies off, it is calcified by the minerals present in the saliva. This reaction causes a rough, hard substance called calculus or tartar to form. The roughness allows for more bacteria to attach to the teeth thus allowing more plaque to form.
  • When bacterial plaque gets under the gum it causes redness and inflammation (gingivitis).
  • With proper and prompt treatment gingivitis is reversible. Without treatment gingivitis can become a more serious problem called periodontal disease.

Periodontal Disease

  • Periodontal disease is defined as the destruction of the ligaments, tissues and jaw bone that holds a tooth in place.
  • The ligament, tissue and bone loss is the body’s response to the inflammation caused by the bacteria and its by-products.

Stages of Periodontal Disease

Stage 1: Gingivitis
  • Area where gum and teeth (gumline) meet is inflamed and swollen.
  • There may be a small amount of plaque build-up (may be difficult to see) and some redness of the gums.
  • Remember that early gingivitis can be reversed.
Stage 2: Early Periodontal Disease
  • All of the gum is red, inflamed and swollen.
  • Bad breath becomes noticeable.
  • Mouth can be painful.
  • Calculus starts to form due to the build-up of plaque.
  • If caught early enough this stage of periodontal disease can be reversed.
Stage 3: Moderate Periodontal Disease
  • Gums may be cherry red and swollen.
  • They may also bleed when pressure is applied.
  • Large amounts of calculus may be seen covering the majority of a tooth.
  • Infection may also be present causing pus to be seen around the gum line.
  • Mouth may be very painful causing a change in eating/chewing as well as behavior.
  • This stage may be irreversible.
Stage 4: Advanced Periodontal Disease
  • The on-going bacterial infection is destroying the gum, tooth, tissue around the tooth and the bone holding the tooth in place.
  • Bacteria is able to enter the bloodstream and travel to other organs (heart, liver, kidneys, and/or lungs) causing damage.
  • Teeth may be covered by large amounts of calculus.
  • May have bleeding gums and/or receded gums.
  • Teeth may be loose, movable, or even be missing.
  • At this stage most pet’s have at least 30% supportive bone loss.
  • This stage IS NOT REVERSIBLE.

What to look for – Signs and Symptoms for Dental Disease (Early to Advanced)

  • Persistent bad breath
  • Painful/sensitivity around the mouth
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Excessive drooling
  • Decreased or loss of appetite
  • Dropping food from mouth
  • Bleeding, inflamed, or receded gums
  • Tartar/Calculus (brownish-yellow, hard material)
  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Blood on toys, bones or dry food

If you notice any of these signs please contact your veterinarian.

We here at The ANIMAL HOSPITAL OF WAYNESVILLE strive to keep your pets healthy by keeping their teeth healthy.