Oral Disease in Dogs and Cats

Oral hygiene is an important, but often overlooked, factor in the overall health of your animal. Although dogs and cats often do not suffer from dental caries, periodontal disease arising from the gums can then attack the teeth. Studies show that 80% of dogs and 70% of cats at 3 years of age suffer from this disease.
The owner should make routine checks of the teeth, gums and mouth. Signs of oral disease are loose teeth, discolored teeth, teeth covered with tartar, bleeding from the mouth, reluctance of the animal to allow the owner to touch the area of the mouth, loss of appetite, or weight loss.


Dental Plaque and Tartar
Plaque is a greasy substance that begins to form on the tooth surface for several hours after a meal. Within 24 hours, in combination with salts contained in saliva, it starts to harden. The gradual accumulation of plaque mineralization eventually results in the formation of tartar. Tartar affects the teeth and gums in several ways. Its rough surface forms an excellent environment for bacteria to attach, grow and multiply. These bacteria can cause gingivitis, which often causes bleeding gums. The gradual worsening of this condition leads to periodontal disease, which causes a deepening of inflammation, pain and tooth loss. Tartar building up along the edge of the gum pushes the gum towards the tooth root. Retracting gums reveal the sensitive part of the tooth, not covered by enamel, causing pain. Unless intervention occurs, bacteria can move from the oral cavity into the bloodstream and spread to the whole body and thus affect the heart, kidneys, liver or joints.

If your pet already has tartar, a veterinarian can take care of its removal. Descaling can be done manually with special instruments or an ultrasound device. Sections of the teeth needing treatment may be hidden beneath the gums. After removing the tartar, the veterinarian will polish with toothpaste, which parallels the microscopic roughness on the surface of the tooth where bacteria take hold. This is a specialized procedure which must be done under general anesthesia. It is only natural that we try to prevent such problems first.
Plaque removal can be done at home with a simple tooth brushing. It is advisable to brush your pet’s teeth every day, but if that’s unrealistic for you then strive for at least 3-4 times a week. Although dogs have permanent canine teeth until about 6 months of age, it is appropriate to start the cleaning in puppies or kittens to get them accustomed to the process.

It is important to choose an appropriate toothbrush that has soft bristles, so as not to damage the gums. There is a large number of special toothpastes for dogs and cats that are pleasantly flavored, so that teeth cleaning is an enjoyable experience for your pet. Other methods of prevention are a special dental diet and dental treats and toys. If you have any doubts about the proper implementation of preventive care, consult your veterinarian.


Persistent Milk Teeth
Milk teeth that are "forgotten" seem to be particularly problematic in small breed dogs such as Yorkshire Terriers, Chihuahua, Maltese dog and others. Most often these are canine teeth, but there may be other tooth types. It is not uncommon that a dog will have several persistent deciduous teeth. Tooth replacement usually occurs until 6 months of age, for small breeds often up to 7 or 8 months. Genetics is the most common cause of persistent milk teeth, but there may also be a nutritional or hormonal defect. To prevent displacement of permanent teeth and orthodontic problems due to crowded dentition, you need to have a veterinarian pull persistent milk teeth.

FORL - Feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions
This huge scientific name is a specific disease in cats which causes resorption, or loss, of teeth. This is one of the most common diseases in cats, affecting one to two thirds. Although this disease has a widespread occurrence today, signs of the disease have been found in 800-year-old cat skeletons. Purebred cats are particularly predisposed, especially Persian and Siamese cats and cats over the age of 4 years. The disease begins as a small erosion of the tooth - damage that progresses, affecting enamel and dentin and penetrates to the medullary canal. Resorption of the tooth enamel leads to weakening and fracture of the affected tooth. Clinical symptoms are not always obvious. Sometimes there is discomfort when chewing, loss of appetite or, as mentioned, fractured teeth. Despite the fact that this disease has been known for a long time, we still do not know the exact cause. Currently, the best choice of therapy is tooth extraction.
 
Other diseases of the teeth and oral cavity which are encountered in veterinary practice are root abscesses, broken teeth, other traumatic injuries such as jaw fractures, tooth decay, injury, or tumors of the oral mucosa.
 
In the mouth, we can also observe the manifestations of systemic disease, such as papillomavirus, an outbreak which severely compromises immunity. Diseases of the teeth typically develop over a long period of time. The first stages of tooth disease are easy to miss, so it is important to have your pet’s teeth checked by a professional at least once a year. As with other diseases, prevention is of utmost importance.

MVDr. Andrea Kubovčíková, SIBRA centrum, Bratislava

Na vrátkach 13, 841 01 Bratislava
phone: +421-2-64461794, +421-2-54419949
klinika@sibra.sk
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