Taking care of your pet’s teeth and gums
By the time a cat is three years old, 70% will already have gum disease and for dogs, this figure rises to 87%. Gum disease causes pain and ultimately tooth loss. Also, the bacteria in the mouth enter the blood stream leading to kidney and heart valve disease.
We know how painful eating can be when your mouth is sore – even the greediest of our furry friends may refuse to eat if suffering from dental diseases. If left untreated it can cause bacteria in the mouth which can travel to vital organs like the heart, kidneys and liver and be the source of diseases.
Six Signs of Dental Disease
1. Bad breath
3. Pawing at the mouth
4. Difficulty eating
5. Loose or missing teeth
6. Changes in behaviour
You might notice your pet becoming more timid or aggressive this typically happens with cats.
Treating dental diseases
Gingivitis is usually the first sign of dental disease. You might notice a build-up of yellowish-brown tartar on the teeth and is caused by an inflammatory reaction to the bacteria in the mouth.
A mild build-up of tartar can be treated at home or with a scale and polish under general anaesthetic at your veterinary surgery and usually takes about 30 minutes and is easy to do. If there is an active infection at the gum line which is loosening and exposing teeth often a scale and polish can prevent further damage and extraction isn’t necessary. This needs to be followed up with thorough home care or regular trips to the vets every six months to main good dental hygiene.
If left untreated, extractions may be required and followed up with pain relief and antibiotics at home. We always recommend coming to see one of our veterinary nurses to make sure everything is healing as expected.
Dental problems in cats may be a sign other diseases
Common viruses may predispose a cat to dental problems due to either reduced immunity allowing plaque to damage teeth faster or causing excess gingivitis. If your cat has Feline Immunodeficiency Virus or Feline Leukemia regular tooth brushing can help reduce dental disease but in some cases, the inflammation is too severe to allow brushing.
Most dental problems in rabbits are due to the back teeth (molars) becoming jagged or uneven allowing incorrect growth and inadequate closure of the jaw. The sharp edges on the teeth can cause ulcers to form on the cheek or tongue which makes it painful to eat. Rabbits can also suffer from tooth root abscesses which can cause a nasal discharge or a discharge from the eyes.
Mice, Rats and Hamsters
The most common dental problems for small rodents is overlong incisors. Some of our well-behaved patients have these clipped.
If you have any concerns always ask your vets for advice on how best to manage your pet’s dental hygiene.
Enjoy your summer with your pets.
Emma the Vet
Notting Hill & Barons Court Vet
About Dr Emma Nicholas Head Vet MA (Cantab) VetMB MRCVS
In 1994 Emma graduated from the University of Cambridge and is a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Since early 2000s Notting Hill & Barons Court Vet have earned a special place within the West London community offering friendly veterinary services to the highest standards whilst keeping treatment affordable for local pet owners. The surgeries at are the cutting edge of veterinary practice and have built up strong relationships with specialists in all fields of veterinary medicine. The team pride themselves on being a source of support to all their clients and patients.