Dental Disease and Treatment
HOW COMMON IS DENTAL DISEASE IN DOGS AND CATS?
Dental disease is one of the most frequent ailments seen by veterinary surgeons, and can be found to some degree in the majority of dogs and cats over two years of age. The most common problems are due to periodontal disease and gingivitis . Dental disease can be very painful in itself but also can result in infection spreading to other parts of the body causing secondary problems such as blood poisoning and septic arthritis. For this reason it is very important that you ensure your pets teeth are in good condition.
WHAT SIGNS AM I LIKELY TO SEE IF THERE IS DENTAL DISEASE?
Just because your pet is eating food doesn't mean that there are no problems with their teeth! Just like humans, animals have to eat to survive so will tolerate discomfort and low grade pain without you even knowing. It is very common to not see any signs of dental disease at all unless you lift the gums and look at the teeth. When looking at the gums you may see reddening (gingivitis) and a lot of built up of material on the teeth (tartar). Dribbling and being off food are often present when the teeth are in advanced decay and in need of urgent treatment. Any sign of inflammation can be highly irritating and may even be painful.
WHAT USUALLY CAUSES DENTAL DISEASE?
WHAT ARE TOOTH NECK LESIONS IN CATS?
The most common sign of advanced dental disease in cats is neck lesions. These are also know as feline oral resorptive lesions (FORL). Neck lesions result from a progressive destruction of the tooth substance effectively resulting in slowly deepening ‘holes’ in the teeth concerned. Once the sensitive parts of the tooth are exposed these lesions are intensely painful, and usually the only available treatment is to extract the tooth. The cause of this disease is unknown, however poor oral hygiene is suspected to play a role in the disease process.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY PET HAS SIGNS OF DENTAL PROBLEMS?
If your cat or dog is showing early signs of dental disease, we will often talk to you about changing their diet or possibly even brushing their teeth (if you are keen). We can arrange a free consultation with our nurse to go through both these procedures with you.
Most pets with any form of moderate to advanced dental disease will need some form of veterinary treatment. This usually involves a scale and polish under general anaesthesia and may also involve extractions. Advanced dental disease will often require multiple extractions. In some cases oral surgery may be required. A dental check up will give you an idea of what may be required but sometimes only full evaluation under anaesthetic will reveal the true extent of the decay and subsequent treatment.