60% of pets more than 5 years old suffer from serious dental disease, and in certain breeds of dogs (Maltese, Poodle, Dachshund and Chihuahua) and cats (Somali, Abyssinian, Burmese and Siamese), the proportion is as high as 80-90%.
Not only can dental disease cause pain, bad breath, tooth and gum problems, it can also cause disease in other organs due o bacterial spread via the bloodstream.
How to prevent dental problems
As part of your pet's annual health check, we examine its teeth and gums and make recommendations about how to improve your pet's smile. It may be necessary for your pet to have a dental scale and polish if its teeth and gums already have disease present. However, long-term control and prevention of dental disease requires regular home care.
Dental home care may include:
Tooth brushing (at least 3 times a week). This is the best form of dental hygiene and many products are now available to assist you. Purchase a baby brush and pet toothpaste.
Raw meaty bones. The chewing of tough cartilage and bone scrapes tartar and plaque off teeth, however, over time it may also cause tooth wear and fracture leading to possible dental disease.
Dental exercisers, chew toys and special diets (e.g. Hill's t/d diet). These all assist in reducing plaque, but are rarely enough to treat advanced dental disease.
The important thing to remember is to start early. Puppies quickly learn to accept dental home care as part of their daily routine, allowing you to develop proper dental hygiene early to prevent problems. However, older animals can also learn and benefit from the same processes. Regular and frequent attention to your pet's teeth will avoid annual visits to the Hospital for a professional dental clean, and will also improve your pet's overall health.