According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats develop gum disease by the age of three years. Periodontal disease is the most common dental condition affecting dogs and cats. Infection and inflammation of the gums and supporting tissues of the teeth are caused by bacteria present in plaque and calculus (tartar). The problem begins when plaque and calculus are allowed to build up on a pet's teeth, especially below the gum line. Bad breath, bleeding and inflammation of the gums, receding gums, loosening and the eventual loss of teeth are characteristic of the condition. Prophylactic treatment to keep the teeth clean is therefore of great importance. It is always best to start dental care at a very young age!
Regular dental check-up visits are strongly recommended; the interval between checkups varies from pet to pet and also depends on how effective the home care program is. Hardened tartar can only be removed by a veterinarian, as this requires the use of special instruments and equipment. Routine periodontal treatment performed typically includes ultrasonic scaling, subgingival manual scaling, and polishing. All dental procedures in pets, including scaling and polishing, are performed under general anesthesia. The current state-of-the-art of veterinary anesthesia is such, that this poses minimal risk. The adverse effects of bad teeth on the overall health of the animal also greatly outweigh the anesthetic risk.
There is clear evidence that oral health status has a profound effect on our pets' general health. Periodontal disease may ultimately cause bacteria and toxins to enter the bloodstream with potentially disastrous effects on internal organs, especially the heart, liver and kidneys.