Bad breath in our pets is a common problem. The underlying cause many times is a buildup of plaque and bacteria in the mouth. This is a result of our pets not being able to brush their own teeth. It’s that not having a thumb thing that really makes it hard for them to hold a toothbrush. 😉
The fact is, over the years, a buildup of food results in tartar and then the plaque, and finally periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease is inflammation to the gum line and below. This is the worst part of the disease because this cannot be seen and can greatly affect the health of the tooth and bone of the jaw. Odor is a result of bacteria and periodontal disease in many cases.
Here are a few other things you may notice which may also result in bad breath or indicate other dental issues.
- broken or loose teeth
- extra teeth or retained baby teeth
- teeth that are discolored or covered in tartar
- abnormal chewing, drooling or dropping food from the mouth
- reduced appetite or refusal to eat
- pain in or around the mouth
- bleeding from the mouth
- swelling in the areas surrounding the mouth
How do we get back to fresh breath?
This usually requires a dental cleaning at your vet’s office. A pet dental cleaning most often requires them to be placed under anesthesia. For you and me this is usually not needed because our dentist will tell us to sit and stay. We know what to expect and will hang on to the armrest of the dental chair, but our pets would not tolerate the cleaning while awake. While under anesthesia a complete cleaning of the teeth can be accomplished to include below the gum line.
Full disclosure, in some bad cases, it is best to remove some if not the majority of the teeth. By removing most of the teeth where the problems originate you can have a pet who has a disease-free mouth which allows her to live a comfortable life.
Can she eat after the removal of teeth?
Surprisingly yes! In fact, often better than ever and hard food as well. No pain in the mouth and reduced bacteria = no bad breath.
Diet and genetics contribute to which pets may develop periodontal disease. Small breed dogs and most cats are likely to have dental issues after 3 years of age. Canned food often does contribute to a quicker buildup of tartar so at least offer your pets a hard food option.
Lastly, get your pets comfortable with you opening their mouth and start this at a young age. Not only can you examine their teeth but it makes giving medications so much easier and you may see problems early which may be easier and less costly to take care of.