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  • Writer's pictureStream Valley Vet

Have Questions About Dental Disease? We Have the Answers!

FACT: more than 85% of dogs and cats older than 4 years have periodontal concerns. It's the staggering truth of a serious disease that is preventable and treatable. Simply put, many pet parents do not provide as much dental care for their pets as they should. Which is why we're here help you better recognize the signs and understand the severity of periodontal disease! Periodontal disease is a progressive disease occurring as a result of the presence of plaque (bacteria) in the mouth, which causes inflammation. This will then cause bone loss and loss of the attachment of the gums to the tooth. Early detection and treatment is then critical, because advanced periodontal disease can cause a range of health issues and pain.

How does dental disease start? Plaque on your pet's teeth can harden into tartar that can sometimes be difficult to remove. If tartar is seen above the gumline, it's typically easy to remove. Tartar and plaque below the gumline causes damage and sets the stage for infection along with damage to the jawbone and tissues that connect the jawbone and teeth. Most dental disease occurs below the gum line where you can't see it. This is why veterinary professionals strongly recommend oral care at home or routine professional dental cleanings--periodontal disease should never be left untreated.

Stages of Periodontal Disease

There are 4 stages of progression associated with periodontal disease. Stage 1 is classified as gingivitis, in which the gum (or gingiva) at the top of the teeth is inflamed and swollen, and plaque covers the teeth. Treatment can reverse the condition at this stage. Stage 2 is known as early periodontitis, when the entire attached gum is inflamed or swollen. The pet's mouth is painful, and bad breath is noticeable. Professional treatment and home dental care is advised to prevent the disease from becoming irreversible.

Stage 3 of periodontal disease is moderate periodontitis, as infection and calculus are destroying the gum, now bright red and bleeding. The pet's mouth is sore, which can affect eating and behavior. Bad breath is consistent, and periodontitis has started. Finally, stage 4 is known as advanced periodontitis, with a chronic bacterial infection destroying the gum, teeth, and bone. Bacteria may be spreading in the bloodstream throughout the body which can damage the kidneys, liver, and heart. At Stream Valley, we always offer our best to prevent and treat dental disease, no matter what.

How Do You Start Dental Care?

Now more than ever is a great time to get started on a regular oral-care regimen for your pet. Just like our own dental health, our pets deserve the best care. It's ideal to brush your dog or cat's teeth daily, just like your own. Prevention is key for keeping them healthy and happy! Here are some tips to get started:

  • Brush or wipe the teeth regularly. We recommend using C.E.T. or Oravet products, a couple of times a week at least, although daily is better. Pet toothpastes contain enzymes that help dissolve plaque and don't need to be rinsed. They have a variety of flavors that pets will appreciate--which we have in stock for you to purchase at SVVH. You may also find plaque prevention gel to protect your pet's teeth even more!

  • Use a soft toothbrush made for pets or a fingertip brush. Some veterinarians suggest that gauze wrapped around a finger works better with cats, especially if dipped in tuna or clam juice first.

  • Switch to dry food and offer teeth-cleaning toys. There are specifically formulated foods that help to improve their dental health! Wet food has a higher chance of getting stuck in between your pet's teeth. If it is vital that your pet eats wet food, make sure to pay extra attention when cleaning their teeth at home.

  • Soft chew toys and a chew rope can help keep teeth clean, too. Avoid chews that are too hard or are prone to breakage. These can break teeth or slice gums. Don't forget to supervise your pets while they play with chew toys, just in case an accident may occur.

  • Once your pet's teeth are in good shape, you'll surely notice an end to bad breath! The benefits of proper dental care go beyond a better-smelling mouth, but starting off on the right paw is the way to go.

  • Get regular professional dental cleanings. The time period between dental cleanings will vary according to how rapidly periodontal disease develops in the pet. Every 6 months to a year is usually recommended depending on the oral health of the pet.

  • Have crowding or other abnormalities treated by your veterinarian.

If you're still highly concerned about scheduling a professional dental cleaning, we completely understand. However, today's anesthetics are dramatically safer than even a few years ago and not as big a risk compared to the pain and dangers of untreated dental problems. Our veterinary team is always on-hand to monitor your pet's vitals throughout the entire procedure. The lasting benefits of a thorough cleaning outweighs the cost of the procedure. Ask us about insurance options if you need assistance.

Before a dental cleaning...

....and after! Look at those pearly whites!

Dental Month is Not Over Yet!

February is winding down, but pet dental health awareness doesn't have to end. Maintaining your pet's oral health is a lifelong process. If you need extra help in providing this care, please don't hesitate to schedule a curbside care appointment with our veterinarians. Dr. Corey, Dr. Syam, and Dr. Johnson, along with our technician team, have the tools and tips to get your dog or cat's teeth in tip-top shape.

Don't forget: we are running a special of 10% off dental cleanings through the end of March. Over-the-counter dental products are also 10% off until February 28th! Call us at (703) 723-1017 to schedule a consultation, a dental checkup, or order products for curbside pickup. As your neighborhood veterinary hospital, Stream Valley is here for all of your pet's needs.



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