Bad Breath

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Tooth and gum problems are the most common health concerns for modern pets. Take care, however, because bad breath can go hand-in-hand with other more troubling or life-threatening health problems.

The most common cause of bad breath is tartar buildup on the teeth. As the leftover food particles decompose, it creates an ideal condition for oral bacteria to thrive. The bacteria grow into plaque on the teeth. It is this plaque and an associated oral infection that gives your pet its bad breath. Plaque can cause the gums to become inflamed and recede. The plaque buildup can become so bad that the gums recede past the tooth enamel and expose the soft dentin material near the roots of teeth. Once an infection reaches the dentin, it will stay there; dentin is more porous than enamel. Once the dentin is exposed, tooth loss will probably result. This is why early detection and daily dental hygiene is crucial for optimal pet health.

Immature pets may have bad breath while losing their baby teeth. This is normal and will go away. Brushing the mouth can provide them with relief.

In older pets, severe halitosis may signal diseases of the kidneys or the liver. Therefore, your vet will check before performing any dental procedure. With younger cats, they may also check for feline leukemia or feline immunodifficiency disease (feline AIDS). If these tests prove negative, your pet may suffer from resorptive dental diseases. Here, deep cavities form in the teeth for no apparent reason. This is a much more common problem in cats than dogs. Cats often lose incisor teeth for no reason: they just drop right out of their mouth. Teeth cleaning usually has little effect once a lesion takes root and, eventually, cats will end up losing the affected teeth. Fear not, cats can still lead long, happy, successful lives. The cause of resportive dental diseases is quite unclear. Cats are either born with susceptible teeth or perhaps there’s other undetected dental diseases at play.

Tartar on the teeth can cause kidney and liver problems. The bacteria can break loose from teeth and enter your pet’s blood stream; this can lodge in kidneys, liver crevices or in the valves of the heart. Severe dental disease can lead to heart murmurs. Once the dental problem is addressed, the heart murmur will go away. Chronic dental problems cause pets to drool. The wetness and infection then cause the lips to become inflamed. When the dental issue is addressed, this condition can be reversed as well.

Treatments for bad breath can vary depending on the problem and its severity, but, your best bet will be to change the food and provide chewy treats. You may want to try to start brushing your pet’s teeth or using a mouth wash or spray.  With the right pet (that will allow you to do this), you may be able to manually remove the tartar at home. Your vet may offer ultrasonic cleaning or removal of teeth.

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