By the time they reach the age of two, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of dental disease. A build-up of plaque may lead to gingivitis or periodontal disease which can infect teeth and bones, causing harmful bacteria to travel via the bloodstream to other organs such as the heart or kidneys. If you are unsure of the dental health of your your pet, maybe it's time for a check-up!
Common signs of bad teeth include:
Yellow staining on teeth
Inflamed or bleeding gums
Dribbling or trouble eating (especially hard foods)
The simplest and best way to keep teeth and gums healthy is to feed a good diet. Soft foods make the teeth largely redundant, and as they say - "use 'em or lose 'em!". Soft foods also do very little in terms of scraping off old plaque and tartar; and they provide almost no tooth and gum exercise, so it is best to avoid canned foods or dog roll where possible.
For adult cats and dogs, one of the best foods for teeth is the Hills t/d. This Prescripotion Diet is a complete food that contains all the nutrients your pet needs for a healthy balanced diet and is available from most vet clinics. These biscuits are formulated in such a way that they don't crumble when chewed. Instead the kibbles wipe the teeth clean as your pet eats them, effectively brushing the teeth with every bite.
Brushing the teeth is another option. It needs to be done regularly - 2 or 3 times per week at least - and requires a diligent owner and a cooperative pet.
When too much plaque builds up, it becomes hardened tartar, which is too tough to remove by brushing or diet. Under a general anesthetic, a veterinarian can scale and polish your pets teeth to remove the plaque and tartar that built up. Sometimes teeth become damaged and painful and require removal, which is also done under a general anaesthetic.