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Pet Dental Hygiene Awareness Month

2nd March 2020

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Dental disease is incredibly common in pets with 70% of dogs and 90% of cats affected by periodontal disease. It usually starts as mild inflammation of the gum(gingivitis), and dental plaque is the main cause of gingivitis. If the plaque is treated early enough the gingivitis is reversible and the mouth can recover. If not treated it may proceed to irreversible periodontitis with gum recession and eventual tooth loss.

So, to raise awareness of this important disease, we wanted to share the story of Eddie ❤ with you. Eddie, a 14 year old border terrier dog, had been suffering from unpleasant breath and dental disease. When his front teeth became wobbly his owner, Suzanne Miller, took him to see our Streatham practice, where he had to have 14 of his teeth removed!! After the dental treatment Eddie had a new lease of life and was much happier and more active.


Eddie had been less active and Ms. Miller had put this down to his advancing years. She says, “He’d been slowing up and I thought it was just old age catching up with him. His breath had been stinky for a while and I knew he’d probably need dental treatment, but I was worried about putting him under anaesthetic at 14 and a half years old”.

The vets checked Eddie over and confirmed he needed major dental treatment. Due to his advanced age, they ran a blood test which confirmed he was otherwise in good health.

Our Head of Practice, Julie Knapton, says “Older animals may have an increased risk under anaesthetic, but in Eddie’s case the benefits of the dental far outweighed the risks. He was otherwise in good health for his advanced age, and we kept him on a drip during the procedure. He had to have 14 decayed teeth removed, so he certainly needed it. Just like us, the best way to prevent dental disease is to brush twice daily with a pet specific toothpaste [human toothpaste can be toxic to animals and should not be used]. This requires a lot of dedication and a very tolerant dog or cat! It is the minority of pets who do not require veterinary dental treatment at some point in their lives.” Rather than waiting for disease to become severe, veterinary recommendation is for annual dental checks and early intervention with descale and polishing of the teeth.

Keeping teeth clean isn’t just good for the mouth, but can also reduce risk of heart disease. It can also affect mood and pets can often seem like they have a new lease of life after dental treatment. Suzanne agrees, “Eddie was so much brighter after his dental treatment. His teeth must have been sore and it must be such a relief for him not to have toothache. Now seeing him really enjoy life to the full again is very rewarding”.

For more advice on caring for your pets teeth, including tips on how to brush them, visit our pet dental advice page here 

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