Good dental health is essential for your dog's overall well-being. Did you know periodontal disease affects 80% of dogs by age three, according to the American Veterinary Dental Society. It is the most common problem seen in the small animal veterinary practice. Small dogs are particularly vulnerable to the disease if teeth are crowded in the mouth.
Periodontal disease is caused by food particles and bacteria that collect around the gums which eventually causes plaque if not removed. Tartar begins to form after a very short period of time and leads to gingivitis, the inflammation of gums. At this stage, you will see a reddening of the gums and your dog will often have bad breath.
There are many factors that contribute to your dog’s vulnerability to periodontal disease. These include age (older dogs are more at risk), diet, breed, genetics, tooth alignment, home care and whether or not your dog does a lot of open mouth breathing that leads to a dehydrated oral cavity.
If gingivitis forms, the bacteria around your dog’s teeth can get into the blood stream and form around the heart and other vital organs, causing a possible infection. It is especially important to pay attention to dental care for dogs with heart disease.
Choose a form of dental hygiene that works best for you and your dog. You can mix and match but make sure you are giving your dog's teeth attention twice a day to get rid of bacteria build-up. You will also want to include bi-annual veterinary visits as part of your routine care program. Early and advanced stage gingivitis are reversible. Periodontal disease is not reversable, but you can stop or slow the progress of the disease. Talk to your veterinarian about what is best for your dog. Prevention is everything. The extra effort of daily care will pay off in adding years to your dog's life.