The Tooth Of The Matter: Why Pet Dental Care Is Important
With pets living longer than ever these days, it makes sense that certain health issues are on the rise – and pet dental problems are no exception. Unfortunately, most pet owners aren’t as fastidious about their pet’s oral hygiene as they are about their own, leading most pets to develop some form of dental disease by the time they are 3 years of age.
If left untreated, dental disease can cause significant pain and possible tooth loss for your pet, not to mention a host of potential health problems ranging from heart, lung, liver, or kidney disease, to diabetes or even cancer. Fortunately, we can turn this grim prognosis around with a combination of home care and regular professional dental examinations and cleanings.
What Is Dental Disease?
Dental disease is a bacterial infection of the tooth, gums, and surrounding supportive structures.
Signs of dental disease in pets include:
- Foul breath
- Swelling of the gums, jaws, or mouth
- Loose, discolored, or broken teeth
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Difficulty chewing or eating, reduced appetite
- Pawing at the mouth or other signs of pain
- Excessive drooling (especially in cats)
Your Pet’s Dental Health And You
Good oral care for your pet begins at home. Brushing your pet’s teeth daily might be the single best way to affect his or her dental health. Your pet may not be keen on you brandishing a toothbrush near his or her mouth, but with a little patience and compassion many dogs and cats can learn to tolerate regular tooth brushing.
- Use a soft-bristled pet toothbrush, infant finger brush, or a finger wrapped in gauze (the last two work great for cats).
- Purchase pet specific toothpaste; never use human toothpaste as it may contain ingredients that are toxic to your pet.
- Ease into the process by allowing your pet to sniff and taste the toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Start by brushing for a few seconds at a time, working your way up to 2 minutes total.
Home dental care also includes a high quality, nutritious diet and regular home checkups: once per week, lift your pet’s lips and look inside the mouth for problems or irregularities. If you notice any signs of dental disease or have other concerns, don’t hesitate to give us a call.
Professional Dental Care
By keeping up with your pet’s regular wellness appointments, you’ll be giving your veterinarian the opportunity to look in your pet’s mouth for signs of trouble and to make recommendations for follow up care. Most dogs and cats will need a professional dental cleaning and examination periodically. Anesthesia is part of safe and effective dental procedures for pets. We are happy to discuss any questions or concerns you may have prior to and during your pet’s treatment.