GLEN ROSE - Next time your pooch leans in for doggy kisses, don’t turn a blind eye to your pet’s bad breath. That odor could be a sign of dental disease.

February is National Pet Dental Health month and Dr. Rocky Terry of Terry Veterinary Clinic helped shed light on the dental diseases that affect pets.

Dr. Terry stated that by the age of three, over 68-percent of pets have some form of dental disease and the most common one is periodontal disease. 

The disease is caused by a buildup of tartar and calculus on the teeth, which then gets under the gums and causes inflammation or infection of the gums and tissues surrounding the tooth. If left untreated the infection can spread to the tooth socket and cause tooth loss. The bacteria from dental disease can also travel in a pet’s bloodstream and infect the heart, liver and kidneys - which is why it is imperative to treat periodontal disease.

Symptoms of periodontal disease include bad breath, bleeding around the gum line, drooling, difficulty chewing, pawing at the mouth, loss of appetite, missing teeth, facial swelling, nasal discharge, and gum recession.

To help avoid the risk of periodontal disease it is wise to treat tartar buildup beforehand.

Some of the tartar that is accumulated is naturally removed by a dog’s tongue and chewing habits. To help further prevent tartar, it is recommended that owners purchase special canine chew toys, feed their pet a specially formulated dental diet and maintain regular home care such as daily brushing.

It is advised that human toothpaste not be used. The sodium in toothpaste can cause additional health problems in some pets. 

Once tartar has formed, it will be required to have it removed with professional scaling and polishing. 

During dental scaling and polishing a dog will be put under general anesthesia. The scaling will be performed using a hand-scaler and ultrasonic-cleaning equipment to remove tartar that is above and below the gum line.

Dr. Terry said that once he starts the process he will clean the teeth, measure the dental pockets and apply antibiotic treatment if necessary. Once the cleaning is done the teeth are then polished to help prevent any further plaque buildup. 

Since only one-third of a tooth is visible, the use of dental x-rays have increased to detect any dental issues not visible to the naked eye.

Dr. Terry recently invested in a x-ray machine for his office and he said that the new machine has been beneficial in the treatment of dental diseases. With the new machine he is able to assess any bone loss, find root abscesses and any other potential dental problems.

As with any health issues, it is important that you take your pet into the veterinarian for a dental examination. Upon diagnosing any dental or periodontal disease their veterinarian will go over all treatment options available.