Exotis ISSN 2398-2985

Ferrets

Dental calculus

Synonym(s): Dental disease, Tartar

Contributor(s): Cathy Johnson-Delaney, David Perpinan

Introduction

  • Calculus is defined as the mineralized build-up of plaque on tooth surfaces.
  • Often referred to as ‘tartar’.
  • Cause: build-up of saliva, bacteria, cellular and food debris causing plaque deposits on the teeth.
  • Signs: presence of calculus on the teeth.
  • Diagnosis: clinical signs.
  • Treatment: scaling, polish.
  • Prognosis: good.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Plaque is a build-up of saliva, bacteria, cellular and food debris, epithelial cells and bacterial by-products.
  • The pH of the saliva as well as enzyme content, and enzyme release from bacteria, as well as content of the diet and consistency of the diet influence the degree of plaque build-up. However, plaque appears in pet ferrets whether fed kibble, canned diet, home-made raw diet or a critical care diet Critical care forumla.
  • The domestic ferret fed a processed diet appears to lack some of the dietary components that inhibit plaque build-up in wild mustelids.
  • The conformation of the mouth itself may influence the build-up as the bite may allow pocketing of material.
  • The author has not found studies done on the pH (particularly in periodontal and gingival sulci), and enzyme characterization and levels. These, in combination with diet content would aid in development of effective prophylaxis treatments.

Predisposing factors

General

  • Poorly understood as dental calculus has been seen in ferrets fed many different types of diets.

Pathophysiology

  • Plaque is a build-up of saliva, bacteria, cellular and food debris, epithelial cells and bacterial by-products.

Timecourse

  • Usually takes weeks to months.

Epidemiology

  • One study determined that 95% of ferrets have dental calculus, although this may be influence by the diet of the studied population.
  • Dental tartar is insignificant in ferrets fed a wild diet, eg whole prey, but very common in ferrets fed a pelleted diet.
  • Type of food consumed has little effect on the formation of tartar, but some diets mechanically remove plaque and avoid the formation of calculus.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Johnson-Delaney C A (2016) Anatomy and disorders of the oral cavity of ferrets and other exotic companion carnivores. Vet Clin North Am Exotic Anim Pract 19 (3), 901-928 VetMedResource.
  • Eroshin V V, Reiter A M, Rosenthal K et al (2011) Oral examination results in rescued ferrets: clinical findings. J Vet Dentistry 28 (1), 8-15 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Johnson-Delaney C A (2017) Disorders of the Oral Cavity and Teeth. In: Ferret Medicine & Surgery. Ed: Johnson-Delaney C A. CRC Press, USA. pp 289-310.
  • Lewington J H (2007) Ferret Husbandry, Medicine and Surgery. 2nd edn. Saunders, USA. pp 521.


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