If your pet is over the age of two, then the answer is “highly likely”.
Periodontal disease is the most commonly diagnosed disease in dogs and cats. Veterinary dentists will tell you, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats over the age of two have some form of periodontal disease.
That number may seem high, but unfortunately it's accurate.
Plaque and tartar accumulate on our pet’s teeth just like it does on our own. However, the vast majority of pet parents don't brush their Pet's teeth twice a day. Or even once a day. By their second birthday, your fur kid is basically fully grown. And far too many of these dogs have never had their teeth brushed.
"But her teeth look fine!" That might be true. However, plaque (the gummy film that forms on a pet's teeth within hours of eating) isn't obvious to the naked eye.
Over the course of several days it combines with minerals to harden into tartar. Over weeks and months, this tartar builds into a thick brown stain. Often referred to as "yuck mouth" or the technical term for it such as periodontal disease. Stage IV is the worst level.
With routine care and attention Stage IV is preventable. Evaluating you pet's teeth and gums begins with a visual inspection. Lift the lip up to view back molars which are where the really bad buildup occurs.
During the visual exam, your vet will check for tartar, anomalies (like extra or missing teeth), and gum inflammation. A vet also checks for any unusual masses. (For example, oral melanomas can be discovered during routine exams).
Even if you regularly brush your dog's teeth, they will eventually need a full cleaning by a veterinarian. Dental cleaning often includes x-rays of the mouth which is a vital component of an oral exam. Bone loss where the root is diseased below the gum line is more common than many realize.
Cats can suffer from a unique condition that makes x-rays even more crucial. Three quarters of cats, over the age of five, suffer from tooth resorption -- a painful condition where the body reabsorbs the protective dentin covering a tooth leaving the root exposed. The cause is unknown and it can affect one or many teeth. The worst part is the entire lesion may be below the gum line resulting a normal-looking crown but with a terribly painful root. The only treatment at that point is extraction of the affected tooth. Even the most observant pet parents won't see any evidence of this problem.
The concept of anesthesia-free dentistry has become popular over the years but some veterinarians caution its limitations. Vets prefer to anesthetize because that is the only way a Vet can be thorough in their examination, clean underneath the gum line where much of the bacteria and plaque reside, and extract teeth if necessary.
If you do use this option, just know that while it may remove tartar and plaque from the visible surface of the tooth, it does not provide the health benefits that a full cleaning under anesthesia would.
Be sure to check out the Life's Abundance dental-health products: Gourmet Dental Treats, Porky Puffs and Buffalo Bully Sticks!
By making just a couple of improvements to your care regimen, you could help to add years to your pet's lifetime.