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Dental plaque, the gummy substance noted above, is a natural outcome of food consumption in the canine species as well as in human species. It’s attachment to the oral tissues of your pet, though a natural process, is not healthy for your pet’s oral tissues (or your’s for that matter). It can lead to tartar development which will lead to gum disease with eventual bone and tooth loss as well as a variety of systemic issues if not properly mitigated on a regular basis.
Dental plaque is substance that forms on the teeth within a few hours after a meal. This gummy substance begins its transformation to tartar within 24 hours after a meal.
The symptoms of dental plaque accumulation in dogs are not as noticeable as they are in people. It is likely that evidence of gum disease will be noted by your veterinary professional during one of his examinations. Here are some things that he may note in his examination, some of which you might also notice, especially if you flip the lips and check your pet’s mouth:
Dental plaque and the gum inflammation have various stages of development into which it can be categorized:
Stage 1 Gingivitis only - No attachment loss to surrounding teeth - alveolar margins (the part of the gum from which the teeth arise) appear normal
Stage 3 Moderate periodontitis - 25% to 50% attachment loss as measured by clinical probing or x-rays
Dental plaque is a direct result of the eating and consumption of food and drink items. This is a naturally occurring substance that causes deterioration of the oral tissues over time if not removed appropriately. Here’s how it develops:
As noted previously, discovery of gum disease most generally occurs during a regular examination by your veterinary professional. Since most pet parents don’t examine the mouths of their family pet, when discovered, dental plaque is usually accumulated to the point at which the tartar has caused gum disease in one stage or another. Your veterinary professional will need a complete history from you which includes any information that you have noticed about your dog’s eating patterns and habits, appetite changes, behavior and energy level changes and if you have noticed any bad breath or any of the symptoms noted above. He will need to know the severity and duration of any of those noted symptoms.
Your veterinary professional will do a physical examination which will include a dental evaluation if he sees gum disease in your beloved family pet. He may order blood testing and perhaps tissue samples. If he is trained to treat periodontitis or gum disease, he will do so. If he is not trained in this area of veterinary medicine, he will likely need to refer to you a veterinary professional who specializes in veterinary dental care.
Treatment of dental plaque accumulation in dogs will be dependent upon the stage to which the gum disease has progressed. Your vet’s treatment plan could include:
The prognosis of treatments for dental plaque accumulation and the accumulation of tartar in dogs is generally good. In the event that your canine family member has to have teeth extracted due to the advanced stage of periodontal disease, be encouraged, your doggy family member can still function quite well without teeth, though you should expect some changes in his dietary regimen in this area. You should also expect that, if you’re not already performing daily oral hygiene tasks with your pet, you will likely need to begin a regimen for home care which will be explained by your veterinary professional.
Gum and periodontal disease not only affects the oral health of your beloved pet, but the infection which is being transported through the bloodstream to all parts of his body can cause other systemic problems, some of which could be life-threatening over time. If is for this reason that all suggestions for the prevention of dental plaque accumulation should be “given a shot” because the life of your doggy family member could depend on it down the road. Of course, administration of copious amounts of the three A’s -- affirmation, affection and attention -- will also be part of the treatment plan.
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