smiling maremma

Dental disease is astonishingly common amongst pets.  It affects more than three-quarters of our pet population, and is a disease that can rapidly advance to cause big and often unexpected problems.

It can be happening below the gumline without obvious signs, degrading your pet’s jaw, causing pain, nerve exposure, sore gums, and tooth loss.  Dental disease can even damage major organs including the heart, liver and kidneys by seeding bacteria and immune complexes in the blood.

How does dental disease start? From plaque and tartar – a normal process that happens daily in every animal and human.  Plaque is formed by the bacteria that reside in the mouth, which gang up to form the sticky biofilm that is plaque.  Plaque can be easily scraped off with a toothbrush, or kept in check with products that dissolve it if used regularly enough.

The problem is that within 48 hours it combines with minerals found in food and saliva and hardens into calculus (also known as tartar).  This hardened, mineralised calculus is very difficult to remove and can only be removed effectively with professional dental scaling equipment.

We brush our teeth twice a day, floss and use other dental hygiene measures as well, AND visit our dentist twice a year for a professional clean (if we are doing what we should be doing!), Our pets need the same level of care if we are to keep their mouths clean, healthy and pain-free.  Remember that pets age at an accelerated rate, so 1 year is effectively 7 years of ageing. Imagine if you only went to the dentist every 7 years, what they would find!!

Without effective hygiene measures, your pet will be at risk for painful dental disease, and potentially tooth loss and other major diseases.  Management is an ongoing battle, and you need a number of officers in your army to win the war – surveilling all fronts.

Dental disease prevention begins at home by providing a clean diet, using effective plaque-control measures, and training your pet to accept cleaning their teeth along with regular dental checks at their vet (at least twice yearly)Regular dental cleanings are a necessary component of oral health care too, and in some pets are needed twice yearly.

Honey and bone

Watch this online video with Dr Renee cleaning Sapote the Devon Rex’s teeth to learn more about this silent assassin.

This is a great video teaching how to train your dog to accept teeth brushing.  The trainer works with targetting first, teaching the dog to accept having the face held and building positive associations between the brush and the dog.


To read more about the effects dental disease can have on your pets, see Ella and Poppy Rose‘s stories.