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Monash Veterinary Clinic

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1662 Dandenong Rd
Oakleigh East, VIC 3166

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Dental Care for Dogs and Cats

What is dental disease?

Dental disease refers to any condition affecting the teeth of your pet and it is one of the most common problems affecting dogs and cats. In general, dental disease is usually broken down into plaque, tartar (calculus), gingivitis and periodontal disease.


How does dental disease begin?

Every day, bacteria multiply in an animal’s mouth. These bacteria, their waste products and the saliva made by your body, form a thin film over the surface of the teeth. This film is known as plaque. If left undisturbed, this plaque will eventually mineralise to form solid deposits over the teeth or tartar, often seen as raised yellowy-brownish material. Owners of pets with dental disease often notice that their pet has foul breath, an aversion to hard food, reluctance to use certain parts of their mouth and that they may drool excessively.


What can dental disease cause?

If left unchecked, the formation of plaque and tartar affects the adjacent gums, and the presence of pressure and bacteria result in inflammation of the gums (gingivitis). Gingivitis is often painful, and you may see spontaneous bleeding associated with light pressure to the gums. In addition, the presence of tartar and bacteria can lead to damage to the ligaments attaching the teeth to the gums (periodontal disease). Gingivitis and plaque may result in gum recession, tooth root abscesses, loose and painful teeth or even loss of teeth.


What can be done to treat dental disease?

It is important to have a veterinarian assess the state your pet’s teeth so that they can give appropriate advice for your pet’s condition. If dental disease is well established, medical intervention is often necessary and your veterinarian may recommend that the teeth are scaled and polished. This will typically involve a general anaesthetic so that all areas can be cleaned thoroughly. Some teeth may be so damaged that extractions may be required to prevent painful teeth from affecting your pet.


What can be done to prevent dental disease?

Prevention is better than cure. The most important aspects of dental disease are reducing plaque and tartar formation, thereby preventing gingivitis and periodontal disease. This can be achieved by mechanically removing the thin film of plaque before it solidifies. Brushing your dogs teeth, specific dental foods (e.g. Hills T/D) and other objects/foods that encourage chewing will all assist with this.

Regular dental involving scaling and polishing of the teeth every 6 to 12 months will also prevent dental disease taking hold and causing other ill problems. This is very much like us, booking into the dentist every 6 months for our dental clean! This is particularly important for those pets that are reluctant to chew because of pain or individual preference.