If you do not look in your pet's mouth you are not the only one but you should definitely start. You can notice not only what a normal mouth looks like but you can also start to recognise the first stages of dental disease before it gets worse and becomes expensive to treat.
This appears to be a healthy mouth above the gum line. This is what we, as pet owners, strive to keep our pets mouth's looking like.
Mild gingivitis is shown on both canine teeth and tartar is forming on all circled teeth. Red gums are an inflammatory response to the bacteria from the tartar that is close to the gum line. We want to prevent this stage of dental disease with home care like tooth brushing, oral rinses, and dental chews. If no home care is done it will lead to the next stage of dental disease.
In this case, more tartar is covering that back tooth. The gums are black so it is difficult to determine the amount of gingivitis. In this stage of dental disease less than 50% of the teeth have tartar on them. Tartar can not be brushed off so at this point it is important to insure that the other teeth and gums are getting some TLC.
This stage of dental disease is extremely dangerous for your pet. This amount of bacteria in your pet's mouth can increase their risk of heart, liver, and kidney infection from bacteria getting in to the bloodstream. At this point treatment would be a Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment (COHAT). This would include: dental xrays which will determine the integrity of the teeth, tooth scaling, tooth polishing, and likely tooth extractions.
This all looks a little "Doom and Gloom", If we are able to continue to look in our pet's mouth, do basic cleanings, and maintain general oral care we can be assured that we are helping!
Dental disease is a diagnosis made by a Veterinarian. There are different stages that vary from mild to severe. Dental disease in your pets is something to not take lightly. There is lots of bacteria in the oral cavity that can get into the pets blood stream and this can lead to a compromised immune system, organ infection, shorter lifespan, and unimaginable pain. Signs of dental disease consist of bad breath, sore mouth, difficulty eating, loose teeth or tooth loss, pawing or rubbing the mouth, bleeding gums, tartar on the teeth, discoloured teeth, and red inflamed gums.
February is dental month and it would be beneficial to bring your pet in for a Tech Consult. During this consult, I will talk more about dental disease and go over affordable and realistic ways you can help your pet feel, look, and smell better! You will also go home with a swag bag that is specifically customised for you and your pet to help with proper dental home care.
February 2019, I had come home from college and the first thing I realized was Luna had terrible foul smelling breath. I opened her mouth to look inside, as any good pet owner would, and found a pink mass between her front teeth. I remember thinking, "how could I have missed this". I was very worried and did not want my dog to be in pain. I called the Vet to book an appointment to get this looked at. The Vet did a biopsy and sent that away. The results came back as Plasmacytoma which is a benign tumour that is very fast growing and had the possibility of impacting the bone. This news was very scary. I wanted the best for Luna especially because she was only five years old. I got referred to a dental specialty clinic for a consultation and the treatment of choice was to remove her top right and left canines and all teeth in between. The teeth and surrounding tissue was sent to a histopathologist and Luna was diagnosed with gingival hyperplasia and lymphoplasmacytic gingivitis. That means that her gums (gingiva) were swollen and red because of a reaction to the tartar on her teeth.
After the surgery Luna was sent home with some pain medication, soft food, and oral rinse. She had to eat soft food for a few days so that her stitches would not rip out. After Luna's stitches dissolved I was instructed to brush her teeth using the oral rinse they gave me. Luna did not enjoy this process but she never growled and I knew it was going to help prevent this happening again. She got used to me brushing her teeth faster then I would have thought. It is a good idea to start brushing your pet's teeth early in life so then they get used to it. It also prevents dental disease which is extremely painful. Having your pet used to it's mouth being handled helps the Veterinarian when they need to look inside their mouth during any regular physical exam and if your pet ever needs to take pills.