Up to 80% of dogs over the age of three have clinically significant dental disease so it is a really important issue in veterinary medicine. Dental disease in dogs and cats is different to that seen in people (who most often get tooth decay) because the biggest problem we most often see is inflammation and infection in the tissues surrounding the teeth (also known as periodontal disease).
Periodontal disease occurs due to accumulation of plaque and tartar on the teeth which causes gum recession and pocketing where the tooth meets the gum. This infection and inflammation can spread deeper into the tooth socket causing teeth to become painful and loose and even resulting in tooth root abscesses.
Most dental disease is preventable with daily brushing using a special pet toothpaste but if your pet already has a build-up of tartar, your vet may recommend a scale and polish under general anaesthesia first. It is also recommended that dental X-rays are performed and the same time to identify any disease located beneath the gum line which may be causing problems. Many vet practices will offer free of charge dental checks for your pets, so if you’ve noticed your pet has smelly breath, discoloured teeth or pain when they are eating, book them an appointment to get checked out as soon as possible.