Friday, February 4, 2011

February is National Pet Dental Health Month


According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, over 70% of cats develop gum disease by the age of 3 years.

Dental disease begins when plaque, a mixture of bacteria and food, builds up on tooth surfaces and works its way under the gum line. Toxins released by the bacteria cause an inflammatory reaction. With time, simple gum inflammation can become periodontal disease, and lead to destruction of the tissue and bone that anchor the teeth in place.

It is also possible for bacteria to enter the blood stream from the diseased gums and affect the heart, liver, and kidneys.

Many of the signs of the disease are hard to miss. Bad breath, discolored teeth and swollen gums are signs of problems. Advanced periodontal disease can cause permanent damage, including loose teeth and tooth loss even though the tooth itself may look healthy. Other signs may not be as obvious and can include a sudden or gradually developing “finicky” appetite, decrease in eating dry food and starting to favor canned food, or nothing more than irritability or weight loss.
Also unique to cats is disease characterized by resorption of teeth by odontoclasts, bone cells that are responsible for breaking down and removing bone. It is known by many names: Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesion, neck lesion, cervical neck lesion, cervical line erosion. While the terms feline carie, or feline cavity are used, they are misleading because these lesions are due to tooth destruction and resorption not decay like human cavities/caries.

Preventing periodontal disease by keeping your cat's teeth and gums healthy depends on both you and your veterinarian. This means regular visits to your veterinarian for checkups, cleaning, and treatment. How often will depend on your cats dental health, its diet; as well as your ability and willingness to follow up with oral care such as tooth brushing and providing a dental diet at home.

Your cat can live a longer, healthier life when oral health care is managed and maintained throughout his or her life. Now’s the time to talk to your veterinarian about developing a dental care plan for your cat