Dental problems in cats and dogs

Dental problems, we see it a lot and it’s very often missed by the owners. That’s not so strange since it’s a health problem most owners are not familiar with. Problems located in the mouth are not visible and because most animals just keep eating like they always do and don’t show any signs of pain, it stays unnoticed. Therefore our advice is to do a dental check regularly.

Plaque and tartar

Dental problems (almost) always start with an accumulation of plaque. Plaque is a thin layer of bacteria, food remains and saliva that attaches to the teeth. This plaque should be removed every day (just like we brush our teeth daily). If we don’t remove it, it will calcify and become tartar. This tartar makes the surface of the teeth rough, and because of this, more plaque will attach and the problem becomes worse. Once there’s tartar, brushing the teeth or giving dental food (Hill’s T/D) will not help remove it. The only way to remove tartar is with a professional dental cleaning.

What are the consequences of plaque and tartar

Between the tartar and the gums, food remains and bacteria can cause an infection of the gums (gingivitis). This is painful! When untreated, the infection will expand to the bones and this will cause teeth to fall out eventually. On top of that, the bacteria involved in this infection can end up in the bloodstream and can cause infection to the liver, kidneys and heart valves.

How can you recognize dental problems

  • Red gums
  • Gums that blood very quickly
  • Bad breath
  • Brown stains on the teeth
  • Drooling
  • Loose teeth
  • Chewing on one side while eating, or stop eating hard food

Note: Especially cats are masters in hiding pain and problems, so sometimes it’s very hard to notice any signs. This doesn’t mean that everything is okay!

Cat with inflamed gums
Cat with inflamed gums

What can you do yourself to prevent dental problems

If we go to the dentist or oral hygienist twice a year and don’t do anything about our teeth at home, we would also have problems with our teeth. For cats and dogs it works the same way. Besides a professional dental cleaning it’s good to take care of your pets teeth at home as well. This prevents, or at least postpones, problems.

How you can do this

  • It would be best to clean the teeth daily by brushing them with a special toothbrush and paste for animals. The sooner you start this, the sooner they will get used to it. If you’re not able to brush (especially adult cats can be difficult patients to start brushing) there’s a very good alternative; Hill’s T/D dental food. This food prevents the formation of plaque and has a brushing effect while eating, because of the big size and the rough surface of the food
  • Use Hexagel. This is a fluid you can apply in the mouth with an easy applicator. This fluid provides a bacteria free environment and prevents plaque. Also it will help to recover infections of the gums
  • A dental check at the vets every 6 months
  • If necessary, a professional dental treatment

Dog with serious gums infection (periodontitis)
Dog with serious gums infection (periodontitis)

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