Bad breath in dogs and cats is a sign of dental disease. Just like humans, having clean teeth, fresh breath and a healthy mouth is just as important for your cat or dog’s health as it is for you.

What is dental disease?

Dental or periodontal disease is a term used to describe infection and associated inflammation of the periodontium (the tissues surrounding the tooth). Periodontal diseases begin with gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and if left untreated, often spreads deeper into the tooth socket, destroying the bone. Ultimately, the tooth becomes loose and may fall out over time.

Is my dog at risk of dental disease?

The answer is yes. Around 80% of dogs three years and over have dental disease. This makes it the most common disease in dogs.

How does dental disease occur in dogs?

The mouth is home to thousands of bacteria, which builds up in your dog’s teeth forming an invisible layer of the tooth’s surface. This is called plaque. Some of this plaque is removed by chewing, but the plaque that stays on the tooth thickens and mineralises, resulting in tartar, which has a rough surface that helps attract more plaque that will adhere to the tooth surface. When plaque comes in contact with the gums (gingiva), it results in inflammation (gingivitis). Gingivitis is the first stage of dental disease.

If left untreated, teeth can rot, break and harbour some pretty nasty bacteria, leaving your pet exposed to other potentially serious health issues.

Your pet should have regular teeth checks by their vet in order to spot problems early and make a plan to better dental hygiene.

Can the build up of plaque and tartar be stopped?

Just like humans, the best way to prevent plaque and tartar is through daily tooth brushing. For dogs, that means a special toothpaste and brush formulated for dogs. However, for many reasons, most dog owners do not brush their dog’s teeth as regularly as they do their own.

Dental chews and specialised dry dental food can reduce and delay plaque and tarter build up through the mechanical action of chewing. However, once it’s there, plaque and tartar is difficult to remove.

So how do I remove plaque and tartar once it’s there?

The best way to remove plaque and tartar from your pet’s teeth is a professional scale and polish. At Blakehurst Vet, a scale and polish is performed by our vets under general anaesthesia to ensure your pet’s comfort.

What’s involved in a pet’s scale and polish?

Blakehurst Vet uses dental equipment similar to the equipment human dentists use. Before we sedate, we advise a pre- anesthetic blood test to ensure the kidneys and liver are functioning well enough for anesthesia. Then, once your dog is under, our vet will examine the mouth and assess the extent of dental disease above and below the gum line. A special dental X-ray machine will identify any tooth rot and examine the surrounding bone. Our vet will remove any teeth that cannot be saved and will then begin a professional scale and polish to remove all traces of tartar, both above and below the gum line.

How do I get my dog’s teeth checked?

At Blakehurst Vet, our nurses provide free dental checks. Book online or call our friendly team on 9547 2750 to book a check today.