Plaque is formed when bacteria mixes with saliva. Plaque attaches to the teeth and hardens, forming tartar and calculus deposits. These deposits irritate the gums, cause inflammation, swelling and infection (gingivitis). Early signs of gingivitis are gum sensitivity, redness, gum bleeding, trouble eating/chewing and bad breath.
Gingivitis will progress to periodontal disease if not treated. With periodontal disease the bone loss and damage to the teeth is irreversible and teeth may become loose or simply fall out. The bacteria and infection in the mouth will spread to the rest of the body through the bloodstream to cause heart, kidney or liver disease.
Periodontal disease can be prevented. First, have your veterinarian examine your pet's mouth for any existing problems. If necessary, a dental cleaning - under anesthesia - will be performed. During the dental cleaning, teeth may be extracted, depending on the severity of the periodontal disease.
A thorough dental cleaning must be followed by a home dental care plan. Home dental care for dogs and cats includes proper diet, teeth brushing (make sure to NEVER use a human toothpaste), oral hygiene solution and healthy dental treats.
Nydia Melissa Perez, DVM