What is dental disease?

Dental disease is caused by the accumulation of plaque. Plaque is the thin, sticky film that covers teeth and is composed of bacteria and their by-products, saliva, food particles and sloughed epithelial cells. If plaque remains it begins to become mineralized from elements such as calcium and magnesium from within the saliva. Mineralised plaque is called calculus. Calculus provides a nice breeding ground for destructive bacteria. Plaque irritates the gums at the tooth-gum interface, and the bacteria it contains proliferate in the groove around each tooth. The bacteria and their by-products cause further inflammation and eventual destruction of the periodontal ligament which anchors the tooth in the socket. Eventually the tooth falls out but not before the surrounding bone is destroyed. When dental disease is just at the gum inflammation stage it is termed gingivitis. As the periodontal ligament is destroyed the disease is termed periodontitis.


You can reverse the effects of gingivitis with a professional prophylaxis and/or homecare techniques however periodontitis is irreversible. Dental disease not only causes bad breath, infections can extend into roots and surrounding bone causing significant pain and discomfort. It can also extend further into the blood stream causing diseases in other parts of the body in your pet.


Percentage of Dogs with Dental Disease Age 3 plus


Percentage of Cats with Dental Disease Aged 3 plus

Signs of dental disease

There are various signs you can look out for in your pet, these are:

  • Bad Breath (halitosis)
  • Discoloured or loose teeth
  • Excessive drooling, sometimes blood stained
  • Dropping of food from the mouth when eating, or reluctant to chew or eat at all, especially hard food.
  • Pain when handled around the head or behavioural changes (e.g. lethargy, increased aggression, disrupted sleeping patterns)
  • Facial swelling
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Inflamed (gingivitis) or receding gums

Preventing dental disease

Appropriate Food Premium prescription pet-foods with larger, harder kibble that are completely balanced are available for both dogs and cats at your furlife vet. These foods contain enzymes and ingredients similar to those found in our toothpaste that help to slow the dental disease process and help prevent plaque from forming on the teeth. Pet Dental chews Dental chew products, such as Oravet have been shown to work in two different ways: by decreasing overall bacterial loads in your pets mouth and softening plaque on the tooth surface. Brushing your Peet’s teeth Brushing is the ‘gold standard’ method of keeping your pets teeth clean. We brush our teeth multiple times a day – your pets teeth need to be brushed daily too.

There are many different methods to keep your pet’s “pearly whites” white! For adult cats and dogs with existing dental disease, a dental treatment with a scale and polish under general anaesthetic is often necessary to get their mouth back into top condition. It may also be necessary to remove teeth that are fractured or loose and in certain cases may be followed by treatment with antibiotics to prevent infection, or irritated gums.

In the majority of pet’s lives, there comes a time when their teeth may require veterinary treatment over and above their regular examinations. A dental treatment involves:

  • Full veterinary pre-operative health assessment.
  • Admission and discharge appointments.
  • General anaesthetic including intravenous fluids.
  • Professional scaling to remove tartar.
  • Charting of the mouth to look for tooth decay, pain and mouth cancers.
  • Polishing of the teeth so they shine.
  • Advice on home-care to keep that smile sparkling.


Fur Life Vet Bendigo 
Epsom 1800 387 543
Golden Square 1800 387 543

Gippsland Veterinary Hospital
Maffra 03 5147 1177
Sale 03 5144 3100

Kyabram Veterinary Clinic
Kyabram 03 5852 2244
Nathalia 03 5866 2860

Passionate Vetcare Bendigo 
03 5443 9385

Terang & Mortlake Vet Clinic
Terang 03 03 5592 2111
Mortlake 03 5599 2612

Warrnambool Veterinary
Warrnambool 03 5561 2255
Port Fairy 03 5568 1855

Border Veterinary Clinic
Barham 03 5453 3159
Cohuna 03 5456 2709
Leitchville 03 5456 7334
Kerang 03 5452 2094

Southern Riverina Vets
Finley 03 5883 3833
Echuca 03 5482 3202
Moama 03 5480 6071
Deniliquin 03 5881 5488

Dubbo Veterinary Hospital
02 6884 1190

Quirindi Veterinary Clinic
02 6741 2000

Gympie Veterinary Services
Gympie 07 5482 2488
Tin Can Bay 07 5486 4666

Scottsdale Veterinary Services
03 6352 2996

Smithton Veterinary Service
03 6452 6333

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