Periodontal disease is a condition that can affect all ages of dogs and cats. It is estimated that up to 80 percent of dogs and cats have some degree of periodontal disease. However, the older the animal is the more severe the periodontal disease is likely to be.
To add to the already high risk of periodontal disease in pets, anesthesia free dental cleanings are being touted as a way to clean a dog or cat’s teeth without using anesthesia. The problem with this approach is that it is impossible to properly assess and clean all aspects of the teeth, especially on the inside of teeth and below the gum line. This does not allow the disease to be properly diagnosed and treated.
Periodontal Disease in Dogs
A 13 year old Labrador retriever mix presented at Eastside Veterinary Dentistry in Washington for an oral evaluation. This picture is of the upper (maxillary) incisor teeth. The roots are exposed and the teeth are mobile. Due to the extent of periodontal disease, this patient required extraction of 50 percent of his teeth. The veterinarian that initially examined this dog recommended that an anesthesia free dental cleaning be performed. Although this is an extreme example, it highlights the problem with acceptance of anesthesia free dental cleanings that are being promoted among the veterinarian and pet owning community.
Periodontal Disease in Cats
Periodontal disease in cats can occur at a young age with severe manifestations. This three year old cat had never had a dental cleaning and not had any at home tooth brushing.
In general, a three year old cat, even without any dental care is unlikely to have this severe of a presentation. However, sometimes it is not possible to determine which cat will develop severe periodontal disease and which will not. As a result, it is important to acclimatize our cats to tooth brushing as a kitten so that this type of disease may be prevented. Unfortunately for this patient, all of his teeth were extracted.
Dental recommendations for cats are dogs are to brush the teeth daily and have yearly veterinary dental cleanings performed with anesthesia, complete oral examination and obtaining full mouth veterinary dental radiographs.
If it’s time for your pet’s cleaning or you’re concerned about a dental condition or disease, find a veterinary dentist near you.