Periodontal disease is one of the most common conditions that we
see in practice. By the age of 3 years old approximately 80% of
dogs and 70% of cats have the first signs of dental disease. This
is an inflammatory and destructive condition affecting the support
tissues of the teeth. The mouth naturally harbours bacteria, in
one drop of saliva there is in excess of 600,000 bacteria. This
increases considerably in an unhealthy mouth. It is not like any
other diseases in so much as there is not a cure but only
moderation of the cause and preventative healthcare to control the
Plaque builds up daily on the surface of the tooth. This calcifies
to form a hard covering on the surface called 'calculus' or
'tartar'. The plaque and calculus harbour harmful bacteria which
attack the gums causing inflammation. This inflammatory response
is called 'gingivitis'.
Gingivitis is treatable by removing the cause i.e. plaque, but if
left untreated, the periodontal disease will progress. The gums
will become infected and in time the surrounding support tissues
and bone around the tooth will be lost. This will result in the
tooth needing extraction or falling out.
High levels of harmful oral bacteria in periodontal disease can
also damage other organs in the body such as heart, kidney and
liver. When your pet chews, the bacteria enter the circulatory
system (bloodstream) through the bleeding gums and inflamed
tissues in the mouth. This can lead to further health problems,
especially in older animals and animals with reduced immune
Preventative Health Care Measures
Daily brushing of your pet's teeth is the single most effective
method to remove the harmful plaque and bacteria in their mouth.
If started at a young age your pet will become used to this as
part of their daily routine.
Special toothpaste must be used, unlike human toothpastes they are
designed to be swallowed by your pet. They do not contain
fluoride, which can be harmful to your pet and they come in
palatable flavours which they will enjoy.
Push the toothpaste down into the bristles.
Hold the dog's muzzle/ nose with the left hand to keep the mouth
Raise the upper lip with a thumb or finger of the left hand and
insert the brush, at the corner of the lips, inside the cheek.
Begin at the back of the mouth and brush the surfaces of the
teeth, especially the gum line where plaque can be trapped.
Allow the mouth to open slightly so the lower teeth can also be
Continue by brushing the teeth towards the front of the mouth up
to the canine teeth (large pointed teeth at the front).