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Periodontal disease is the most common disease in domestic cats and dogs. It affects 80% of dogs and 70% of cats over 3 years of age.
Periodontal disease and dental disease are not limited to just the gums and teeth and, in fact, they can play a role in more systemic health conditions such as heart disease and infections of the kidneys.
The best treatment for periodontal disease is to prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar. With us this is achieved through routinely brushing our teeth, and interestingly enough this is even possible in cats and dogs. However, this would require strict training and owner compliance and this is sometimes not so easy to achieve. As a result, considerable work has been done to formulate pet diets that aim to reduce the buildup of tartar and plaque. We recommend the use of Hills prescription T/D.
These dental diets treat periodontal disease by:
Exercising the gums
Promoting strengthening and hardening of the gum tissue surrounding the tooth
Promoting the production of saliva
Disrupting the environment and metabolism of the bacteria on the tooth
Effective manual cleaning of the tooth
These formulated diets are specially designed to provide an abrasive texture that manually cleans the tooth. They differ from normal dried pet food as they are have been developed not to shatter on initial contact with the tooth, but instead to accommodate the tooth and abrade the full length of the tooth (not just the tip). The size of the kibble is also designed to promote chewing by your pet.
Additionally, dental diets such as Hills prescription TD contain a number of vitamins and minerals known to have a positive effect on the health of your pet's gums and teeth. These include:
Vitamin A - Deficiencies of Vitamin A are known to promote the development of gingivitis, the first step in periodontal disease.
Vitamin B - Deficiencies of Vitamin B have also been shown to promote gingivitis.
Vitamin D - Is vital in the metabolism of calcium and promotes strong attachment of the tooth to the jaw.
Zinc salts - Added for their ability to control the buildup of plaque through their antimicrobial activity.
There have been a number of studies done on specially formulated diets. When compared to both wet food and normal dry food, they have been shown to control the buildup of plaque, calculus, and stains. They are not designed to remove tartar and plaque that has already been established on the tooth and hardened to form calculus. When comparing these diets and chewing aids, check to ensure they are recognized with the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal of acceptance.
Can I use bones to clean the surface of my pet’s teeth?
There have been a few studies that suggest feeding a natural diet (as found in the wild including access to raw bones) will naturally promote dental health. These same studies did however report that a greater incidence of damage and fractures to the teeth were seen. If you are going to use bones to help clean your pet’s teeth remember to only use raw bones and always supervise your pet to ensure they don’t swallow large sections of bone and risk a gastrointestinal foreign body or worse.
Dental health is important in all pets. As an owner, regular dental checks at your Veterinarian, dentals where necessary, and a nutritional plan involving prescription dental diets and dental chews should all play a part in your pet's dental health plan.