Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Canine Dental Disease, by Dr. Holly Kiernicki

15-52  You don’t have to brush your teeth - just the ones you want to keep. Unknown
Photo by Wendy Hollands
I don’t think that there is a dog owner out there that hasn’t said something about “doggy breath.”  Most of us lead very busy lives and have a difficult time keeping up with at home dental care.  We do our best by providing approved dental chews and treats, additives to the water and, when possible, brushing Fido’s teeth.

Dental disease in dogs ranges from dental plaque and tartar causing halitosis to gum recession and tooth loss.  Just like people, every dog is different.  Certain breeds are predisposed to dental disease.  Sight hounds, Toy breeds and Brachiocephalic (short faced) breeds have a higher incidence of dental disease than others. Diet can also play a big role.  A hard diet it better than a soft diet but the resulting pH of the saliva is also a determining factor in dental health.

When looking at Fluffy’s teeth, keep in mind that they should be white and smooth like yours.  Any film or build up is considered abnormal.  As the tartar builds so do the number of bacteria present.  Tartar is full of pockets that make wonderful little incubators for the bacteria to grow.  This leads to gingivitis, inflammation of the gums.  As the gums become more inflamed they shrink away from the crown.  With time and progression of dental disease there is more root exposure, causing sensitivity and potential  tooth root abscesses and tooth loss.

Your veterinarian will determine the severity of dental disease and advise the best course of action.  This may include antibiotics in addition to a dental cleaning but also require the extraction of mobileand/or diseased teeth.  Moderate to severe dental disease must be treated with the traditional anesthetic dental cleaning.  Some veterinarians offer a non anesthetic dental (to be discussed in a separate article) for those with mild dental disease or for pets with a high anesthetic risk (cardiac disease being the most common concern).   Remember, there is no “doggy breath” associated with a healthy mouth and that makes everyone happy.

Article Written by Holly Kiernicki, DVM

Dr. Holly Kiernicki
Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice
(972) 843-1186

Dr. Holly services the greater Dallas, Texas area including:
~ Frisco ~ Denton ~ Allen ~ Fairview ~ Dallas ~ McKinney ~Celina ~ Little Elm ~ Plano ~ The Colony ~ Carrollton ~ Heath ~ Prosper ~ Richardson ~ Rowlett ~ Wylie ~ Garland ~ Mesquite ~ Rockwall ~ Highland Park

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