Ask the Experts
Most likely, Yes. however it is very important to schedule a visit to the vet. In rare cases, some diseases or situations can cause bad breath in the absence or in addition to tooth/gum disease. Conditions such as kidney failure, diabetes, infections, cancers, or situations where the pet is ingesting feces or other materials can also be the cause of bad breath.
Bad breath, medically known as “halitosis”, results from the bacterial infection of the gums (gingiva) and supporting tissues seen with periodontal disease.
Plaque is a colony of bacteria, mixed with saliva, blood cell and other bacterial components. Plaque often leads to tooth and gum disease. Dental tartar occurs when plaque becomes mineralized (hard) and firmly adheres to tooth enamel then erodes the gum Â tissue.
Both plaque and tartar damage the teeth and gums. Gums become inflamed – red, swollen and sore. The gums separate from the teeth, creating pockets where more bacteria, plaque and tartar build up. This affects the whole body, too. Bacteria from these inflamed areas can enter the bloodstream and affect major body organs. The liver, kidneys, heart and lungs are most commonly affected. Antibiotics are used prior to and after a dental cleaning to prevent bacterial spread through the bloodstream.
No – dental disease is NOT just for senior pets. Without proper dental care, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by age three.
Animals most likely feel pain with periodontal disease. The pain levels may be low, or very noticeable, and it varies with each animal. Obvious signs of oral pain may include “chattering” teeth while eating or grooming, drooling, crying out and refusing to eat.
Yes – please see you veterinarian as soon as possible to check the pocket and other teeth. Exposed tissue can be very painful and are open to infection.
If your pet has a lot of periodontal disease, your vet will likely prescribe antibiotics for a few days prior to the dental. This will reduce the infection and spread of bacteria via the bloodstream. Pets need to be anesthetized for a full dental cleaning. Most vets strongly urge pre-anesthetic blood work to ensure that everything else is ok with your pet. Your pet will be anesthetized, any medications or fluids administered and the vet will scale the teeth, examine the gums, extract diseased teeth and polish the teeth.
It is important to use products specifically designed for cats and dogs. Do not use human toothpaste on your pet’s teeth. Your vet can show you the proper techniques for your pet. Some animals do well with a toothbrush, some do not. Other products include finger swabs, tooth “cloths” and mouth rinses. Talk to your vet about what type of product would work best for your pet. Ideally, the teeth should be brushed daily. Even once every few days will be a big help.