The Mouth-Body Connection: How Pet Dental Health Affects Overall Wellness
When considering your pet’s overall health, it may seem realistic to isolate the mouth from the whole body. After all, what does a little plaque and tartar have to do with other parts of the body?
They may seem like different planets in a solar system, but the fact remains: poor pet dental health is very closely linked to compromised immunity and inflammation throughout the entire body. Gum disease is a real threat, not only to the strength of the teeth, but it can become a menace to your pet’s health.
Prevent Dental Disease
We visit the dentist twice a year to remove the hard calculus formed by plaque and tartar and we brush twice a day! Pets, on the other hand, may never receive any form of pet dental care, leaving them with a mouthful of bacteria.
Left alone, oral bacteria collect along the gum line, turning into plaque, followed by tartar. This can be highly irritating to your pet’s gums, and is likely to cause inflammation or gingivitis.
The first obvious warning signs include red gums and bad breath. Eventually, the gums will pull away from the teeth, creating pockets for more bacteria. Periodontal disease accelerates differently for every pet, but most likely includes these symptoms:
- Loose, missing, or broken teeth
- Bone loss in the jaw
- Yellowed or brown teeth
Protecting Pet Dental Health
For optimum health and longevity, daily brushing of your pet’s teeth should take place at home. This should be paired with yearly professional dental exams and cleanings, which are performed by your vet while your pet is under anesthesia. Without a dedicated commitment to pet dental care, your pet’s future health and longevity could be drastically reduced.
As with humans, there’s also a direct link between oral bacteria and diseases of the heart, liver, and kidneys. Gum disease can even be related to diabetes and cancer, making a proactive approach even more important.
The Usual Suspects
The mouth-body connection is not one to underestimate. When bacteria from the mouth enters the bloodstream through broken-down gum tissue, it has a clear path to the heart and other major organs.
The immune system suffers a major drain in trying to fight inflammation in the mouth and in other parts of the body.
A lack of pet dental health can lead to the following:
- Endocarditis (inflammation of the heart’s valves)
- Thickening of arterial walls, compromising blood flow
- Blood clots
- Damage to the organs inflicted by oral bacteria, including the kidneys, liver, and pancreas
- Inhalation of oral bacteria can cause respiratory distress, tracheal collapse, and even pneumonia
- Auto-immune diseases resulting from an overactive immune system trying to fight off infection and inflammation caused by oral bacteria
We understand that paying close attention to pet dental health takes a lot of extra effort, but once you get into the habit of daily brushing and routine cleanings, you’ll see just how much the benefits outweigh the extra work.