What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease, also known as dental or gum disease, is a condition caused by the swelling and/or infection of the gingiva around the teeth; the swelling appears when bacterial plaque and tartar accumulate on the surface of the teeth on a regular basis. If this bacteria isn’t properly removed regularly, it can lead to infection, discomfort, and tooth loss. Even worse, bacteria from tartar build-up can spread throughout the body, causing illnesses in the heart, liver, and kidneys.
Adult pets should visit the veterinarian at least once a year for a wellness check. The doctor can check for indicators of gum disease during this exam and advise professional cleanings every six months to every other year, depending on your pet’s condition.
Signs of dental disease
Periodontal disease symptoms may be mild at first, and you may not notice anything other than slightly reddened gums. The following are some symptoms of this disease when the situation worsens:
- Halitosis (bad breath). This is the most common concern that pet owners bring up during visits.
- Picking up food, dropping food, and eating difficulties.
- Whimpering and making other sounds when eating.
- Teeth that are loose or missing.
- Gums that are red and inflamed, with or without bleeding.
- Using only one side of the mouth to chew.
- Bumps in the mouth.
- Blood in the food/water bowl or on their toys.
- Drooling and bloody saliva.
- Avoiding contact and other behavioural changes.
- Nasal discharge or sneezing
It’s worth noting that most pets have some type of dental disease by the time they’re three years old, although they don’t always display signs of discomfort. This makes routine dental care vital.
Dental prophylaxis, or dental surgery, is similar to a human hygiene session. As part of a physical exam, a veterinarian might notice signs of gum disease. They might order a thorough dental prophylaxis to treat the condition and restore oral health.
Unlike humans, pets require general anaesthesia to be able to clean, scale, and polish their teeth thoroughly and securely. As a result, we arrange cleanings for a different day, when we can closely watch them before, during, and following the surgery.
Anesthesia allows the veterinarian to make a comprehensive inspection of the whole oral cavity, take x-rays, and thoroughly clean the pet’s teeth both above and below the gumline while the pet is absolutely still. Professional medical staff regularly check your pet’s vital signs throughout this procedure to ensure that they remain safe while under anesthesia.
The procedure might take anywhere between one and four hours. This depends on the pet’s condition, the amount of x-rays required, and if tooth extractions are needed. Preparing the pet for dental surgery (e.g., pre-anesthetic bloodwork, sedation, IV fluids) and post-dental patient monitoring also adds to the time. This means a professional dental procedure requires that you drop off your pet in the morning and pick them up in the late afternoon or early evening.
Preparing your pet for a Dental Cleaning
We recommend that the pet not eat the night before a dental operation. You should withhold food for 12 hours before the surgery to reduce the risk of vomiting while under anesthesia. A few days before the surgery, the medical staff will talk to you about what you can and can’t eat.
Dental Surgery After-Care
For a few days following the treatment, your pet’s mouth may be slightly sore, but they should still be willing and able to eat. You may notice a tiny amount of bleeding from the gums if any teeth were pulled. At the two-week mark, we usually offer a free post-dental checkup with one of our RVTs to make sure that the mouth has fully healed.
We urge that you discuss your individual case with your veterinarian, as well as your pet’s post-operative treatment. However, here are some broad guidelines for post-op home care.
- Because your pet will be recovering from anesthesia, you should serve them a smaller meal on the first day they are home.
- If we do extractions, feed your pet soft food for two weeks afterward.
- Pain meds are prescribed for a few days when there are tooth extractions involved.
Long-term Home Care
Starting or continuing at home oral care, whether it involves toothbrushing or different methods, is the best course of action. If teeth were pulled, it’s wise to wait until the medical staff confirms the teeth are totally healed at the 2-week mark before beginning a brushing programme.
Being proactive will benefit your pet’s oral health while also lowering their chance of developing other major illnesses like heart disease, liver disease, or kidney failure.
For a more thorough discussion on long-term care, you can check out our blog post Your Pet’s Dental Care Starts at Home.
To sum up, the best course of action for avoiding periodontal disease is prevention; and both home care and professional dental cleanings are essential to get good results. Teeth brushing at least a few times a week, as well as additional techniques like dental treats and chew toys, plus dental checks and cleanings, will help your pet enjoy a longer and healthier life.
This article provides a summary view of some aspects you need to know about pet dental care and dental cleanings. We recommend you take the time to talk in detail with one of our licensed veterinarians. They will provide the best suggestions and strategies for your pet. For an appointment please contact us at 416-362-9696 or click the button below.