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Why do 9 in 10 dogs show signs of gum disease by 2 years of age?

Bacteria love warm, damp, dark environments. Give them food there and they thrive - and your dog's mouth is an ideal place. Your dog always has bacteria in in their mouth; on their teeth, they form a sticky, invisible layer called plaque. Unfortunately, as you'd expect, they cause a bit of trouble when they're not kept under control.

The first indication that all is not well in the buccal cavity of a person or dog, is a bad smell. What you can smell is the sulphurous by-product of the bacteria flourishing in the mouth, essentially bacteria flatulence... But smelly breath (halitosis) is just the tip of the iceberg for the sufferer, as the other by-product is acid. Placque's stickiness helps keep the acid against the teeth where it begins to strip down the enamel, and over time damages the teeth and gums. Allowed to persist, bacterial toxins will attack the gums, bone and ligaments surrounding the teeth, causing shrinkage of the gums and loosening of the teeth. This is periodontitis.

If left to foster for an extended period, plaque can solidify into a hard, yellow layer called tartar. From underneath this hard and hard-to-remove shell, bacteria can safely attack the gums, every minute of every hour of every day. The gums are full of blood and the bacteria want in. The body absolutely does not want this to happen, so it sends the troops out to the site to defend the body from invasion, resulting in inflammation along the gum line (the little red line you see above a sore tooth). This inflammation (gingivitis, meaning infection of the gums) is not only painful for the inflicted animal but it is a constant drain on resources, leaving it less able to deal with other threats. Thus, afflicted dogs will be immuno-compromised and more susceptible to disease as a result.

Nor does it end there. All this immuno-debris must be cleared away by the kidneys, which puts them under significant, daily pressure. In this way, animals presening with poor teeth almost always exhibit decreased kidney function. De Bowes et al. (1996) studied 45 dogs with periodontal disease. They found histopathologic changes (refers to the microscopic examination of tissue in order to study the manifestations of disease) in kidney, myocardium (papillary muscle of the heart) and the liver.

A foul mouth is never OK in a dog, young or old. At the very least, these are bad breath, mild discomfort, damaged gums and teeth, a depletition of resources and an increased susceptibility to disease, as well as unsightly tartar, which will require a dental under anaesthesia. At worst, it's agony - heart, kidney and liver disease, with major surgery needed.

It thus comes with some concern that by "2 years of age, most dogs have some evidence of periodontal disease".

If the issue is so serious and so very common, you'd be forgiven for wondering why this is happening so ubiquitously in our dogs and what the solution might be?

Ask the K9 Anytime Grooming team about Ultra Sonic Teeth Cleaning at K9 Anytime, and restore your dog's oral health from their next visit and onwards.

No anaesthetic, no sedation, no pain. Just results.


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