People have a misconception that dental care is a pretty minor thing, nothing to get concerned about… They think that yellow-brown colour on the teeth is just a cosmetic issue, and that breath like a sewer is just normal “doggy breath”.
Dental disease is neither normal, nor healthy!
Periodontal disease refers to tartar and gingivitis that build up not only on the teeth, but in and under the tissues that support the teeth.
Here are 5 reasons why, if your pet has periodontal disease, you should get it looked after right away!
- Dental Pain – a lot of times, when a pet slows down and gets cranky, we brush it off as “just getting old”. Very often, this means we are ignoring pain as just a bad mood. Many cranky “old” pets are actually in pain – and dental disease can be one of those sources of pain. It is very common that after a bad mouth gets cleaned up, the pet gets “younger”. That slowness and grumpiness that was “just age” sneaks up on you, and until it is relieved you may not realize just how much it had been slowing your pet down.
- Tooth Loss – The bacterial film called Plaque can cause significant problems with teeth:
- The plaque and the tartar it hardens into can eat away at the ligament tissue that holds to tooth in the socket, resulting in loose, painful teeth that, after a lot of pain, eventually fall out. This is the usual course for dogs with bad teeth.
- The bacteria may also eat away at the enamel and cause holes in the teeth, called Resorptive Lesions. These let bacteria colonize into the tooth, and may eat their way to the nerve in the centre causing a lot of pain. The teeth eventually break along the weakened area where the hole is. This is a common scenario for cats.
- Tooth Root Abscess – Bacteria can get down to the root through damaged enamel, or along the outside of the tooth. They may start to grow in a pocket around the root tip, causing a tooth root abscess. In a cheek tooth, this abscess may eat away a hole in the side of the face. In a canine tooth (“Fang”) this may break through into the nasal passage.
- Infection into body tissues – every time the pet eats with infected teeth, the small trauma of chewing releases a shower of bacteria into the bloodstream.
- Bacteria commonly lodge on the leaflets of the heart valves. The valves become inflamed and thickened, and don’t work right anymore.
- Bacteria in the kidneys can damage the membrane part of the kidney filter units (glomeruli), causing them to function improperly.
- Bacteria also can cause functional changes in the liver of dogs.
- There are also studies that link periodontal disease to an increase in insulin resistance. This means it may be a predisposing factor for diabetes, and may make a diagnosed diabetic harder to control.
- Bacteria Breath – We all love to get up close to our dogs – but sometimes their breath could knock you over. That breath is not “Doggy Breath” – it is Bacteria Breath! The “bad” bacteria produce sulfide compounds that are responsible for the foul smell. You may think you are being nice by ignoring it (“Oh Scamp, I love you anyway…”) – but leaving those bacteria to run rampant in your pet’s mouth is not doing anyone a favour (except maybe the bacteria!)