Dental Disease – It’s Not All about the Smile
Bad teeth aren’t just about breath like rotting garbage and a yucky looking smile, although these are bad enough.
Bad teeth aren’t just about breath like rotting garbage and a yucky looking smile, although these are bad enough. Even worse is the damage that’s happening internally. Below the gum line, the germs causing that bad breath and gunk are busy eating away at the bone of the jaw. Once they’ve burrowed below the gum line, the bacteria are also able to get into the blood, spreading to other parts of the body. The damage they can do from there is terrifying, resulting in increased risk of serious illness! In humans, plaque alone is associated with a doubling in the risk of premature death! Let’s look into this in more detail.
Dental Disease and Heart Disease
Once in the blood, the heart is one of the first places the bacteria spread to. They lodge themselves in the heart, and can cause chronic low-grade infections that often go undetected. This low grade infection over time causes damage to the heart itself. Dogs and cats with bad teeth are far more likely to develop heart disease or even heart failure, requiring potentially expensive long term medication to keep them alive. We also know that humans with dental disease are more than twice as likely to die of heart disease as people with a healthy mouth – and this is even after taking factors such as age into account!
Dental Disease and Diabetes
Bad teeth have also been linked to diabetes. Certainly in humans dental disease is linked with poor control of diabetes, as well as more severe complications as a result of diabetes. Poorly controlled diabetes means more strain on your pet’s body as it tries to cope, including weight loss, lethargy, increased risk of damage to their eyes and increased chance of infections. Managing a diabetic patient is challenging enough for owners, without having dental disease complicate things further!
Dental Disease and Liver and Kidney Damage
Liver and kidney damage are potential consequences of dental disease. Pets that already have these conditions will often have more severe disease if they also have bad teeth. We very commonly see changes in the liver when we perform blood tests on patients with dental disease. If the liver and kidneys of a pet with dental disease are examined under the microscope, there will be visible damage. Dental disease results in chronic body-wide inflammation – imagine how you’d feel if your body was constantly trying to fight off bacteria coming from the teeth and the heart! Because your pet’s body spends so much time fighting off this infection, your pet’s organs start getting damaged in the crossfire. Both the kidney and liver are vital in the removal of toxins from the body, and if they are not able to function well, your pet will become very ill. Worse, once the damage is done, it can be difficult or impossible for these organs to recover, even after the dental disease is treated.
Dental disease is not all about a beautiful smile – it can have very real and terrible consequences for your pet’s health and quality of life. If you’re concerned about your pet’s teeth, give us a call today!