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Why Dental Care is Important

Bad breath in pets, particularly dogs, is often joked about, but it is not a laughing matter. Dental disease affects up to 80% of pets over the age of three, and just like humans, there can be serious consequences of poor dental health. Imagine if you never brushed your teeth, or had them examined by a Dentist. This is what happens to many of our pets. Pet’s teeth are just like our teeth, except their shaped a little different.

Just as in humans, not brushing leaves bacteria and plaque in your pet’s mouth. As this hardens into tartar and builds up on the teeth, it starts invading between the teeth and gums. Left unchecked, your pet can experience gingivitis, loss of the gum and supporting structures, and eventually the loss of a tooth. Abscessed teeth frequently develop from this process or from a fractured tooth. These can lead to an infection, problems eating, or serious health complications in your pet’s heart, kidneys or liver.  This is a very painful process for your four-legged friend, but these problems can be averted before they start with proper dental care. Studies show that poor dental care shortens our pet’s life span by 20%.

Fortunately there are many steps that can be taken to insure good oral health for pets. Most importantly, you can begin at home by brushing your pet’s teeth regularly, this means every day!  Don’t use your toothpaste, it creates suds, which is ok for humans since we can rinse and spit. There are special pet toothbrushes you can use on pets and toothpastes that are ok for pets to swallow.  It’s best to start when you first bring your puppy or kitten home, but even an older dog or cat can be taught to tolerate regular brushing. Chewing hard food and dental treats also help dislodge some of the plaque in your pet’s mouth.

You should also be sure to make regular appointments with your veterinarian for dental care. Dental specialists recommend annual dental cleanings under anesthesia with your veterinarian.  They will examine your pet’s teeth and may take x-rays to look for hidden lesions of dental decay, abscesses at the tip of the root, or retained roots from broken teeth. The dental technician will remove accumulated plaque, clean and polish your pet’s teeth. In certain cases, your veterinarian may need to perform dental surgery such as a root canal or extraction of diseased teeth.

Don’t ignore your pet’s teeth. Work together with your veterinarian to take the steps necessary to insure your pet keeps those pearly whites for a long time to come!


Signs that your pet may have oral disease

  • Bad breath
  • Excessive drooling
  • Inflamed gums
  • Tumors in the gums
  • Cysts under the tongue
  • Loose teeth

If you notice any of these signs in your pet, it is important that you make an appointment with your veterinarian right away.

You are not alone in the fight.  Ask us to show you how to brush you pet’s teeth.  We can also recommend dental care products including healthy treats and foods.

Check out ASPCA, Ten Steps to Your Dog’s Dental Health  to put you and your pet on the road to a lifetime of healthy teeth