Your pet’s teeth are useful for intimidating other animals, for relating to and playing with other beings, and the only tool they have for providing their own food.
Companion animals’ teeth have different shapes and functions from their owners’. In general, they are white or slightly yellowish and have a hard consistency. So far, they are the same. But the great difference is in the inclination and sharpness of dog and cat teeth, which helps avoid dental cavities, so frequent among human beings.
Your pets are born without visible teeth, which are really hidden inside the gums. They begin to show when your pet is only a few weeks old and are known as baby teeth because they are the first teeth, they erupt during and after the nursing period and they are not definitive. They fall out between the ages of three and six months and are replaced by permanent teeth.
Teeth may suffer different alterations during dental development, such as a missing piece or having more teeth than usual. Another quite frequent problem is when one or more of the baby teeth do not fall out and have to share space with permanent teeth. This often happens in smaller breeds, and must be solved by removing the extra pieces.
To discover possible dental problems, the teeth and their setting must be examined so as to find problems or to rule them out. One of the most frequent symptoms is halitosis or bad breath originating in the oral cavity. Dental diseases are usually due to the accumulation of tartar and to gum infections.
Another symptom of dental problems is lack of appetite, which is usually due to the fever and pain caused by an infection, foreign objects stuck in the mouth or broken teeth.
Finally, let’s talk about plaque and tartar. A normal mouth contains bacteria that cause bacterial plaque due to the presence of pieces of food and the minerals contained in saliva. It is deposited initially in the area of the tooth that is close to the gum and slowly invades the areas nearest to it. The expansion of bacterial plaque and its mineralization will produce tartar. If the problem persists it may provoke the loss of one, several or all of the teeth.
Finally, dental problems may affect other parts of the animal’s body. Keeping your pet’s teeth healthy is based on a proper diet, tooth-brushing, and periodic checkups.
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Colegio Oficial de Veterinarios de Alicante
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