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Importance of DentistryWhat is periodontal disease?

Over 85% of dogs and cats have some type of periodontal disease. 
Periodontal disease simply means that the gums and bone that hold the
teeth in place are being destroyed by oral bacteria.  This preventable
disease is the number one diagnosed disease in our pets, yet many animals
suffer needlessly.  Periodontal disease begins with gingivitis, or inflammation
of the gum tissue, which is caused by plaque.  Plaque is a mixture of saliva,
bacteria, glycoproteins and sugars that adhere to the tooth surface.  Within
minutes after a cleaning, a thin layer of plaque has adhered to the teeth. 
Eventually this hardens to become calculus or tartar.  Calculus by itself is
nonpathogenic - it does not cause disease.  However, it does create a
rough surface for more plaque to adhere to, and pushes the gums away
from the teeth, which increases surface area for more plaque to adhere. 
Eventually, the supporting structures of the tooth (bone, tissue, periodontal
ligament) are destroyed and the tooth becomes mobile and will either fall
out on its own or need to be extracted.  Signs of periodontal disease are
bad breath (halitosis), reluctancy to eat, chewing on one side of the mouth,
dropping food, pawing at the face or rubbing the face on the floor,
drooling, becoming head shy, and painful mouth/face.

Veterinarians recommend the following care for pets:

STEP 1:  Bring your pet in for a dental exam.  Don't wait for his annual
checkup if you suspect a problem.

STEP 2:  Begin a dental care regimen at home.  Brushing your pet's teeth
daily is very important.  We also recommend using a specially formulated
dental rinse, and dental chews and food.  Please ask us if you need
instructions on brushing your pet's teeth, or if you have any other questions.

STEP 3:  Schedule your pets for an annual teeth cleaning with x-rays.  This is
also very important and ensures we are catching any disease early enough
to treat.

Periodontal disease and oral bacteria can easily affect other organ systems
including the heart, liver, kidneys, lungs and brain.

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