Tooth decay and periodontal disease can become just as problematic for our pets as they are for us. This is why taking care of your pet's teeth is an incredibly important aspect of caring for your companion's overall health. Here, our Concord vets discuss the issues that can arise, and how to effectively keep their teeth clean.
Is pet dental care really necessary?
Just like their humans, our pet's oral health is an essential part of their overall health and wellbeing. It is estimated that by the age of two, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some form of periodontal disease. This early start to dental disease can have serious negative consequences for their long-term health. Most dental disease occurs below the gum line, where you can’t see it. Bacteria that you can’t see can damage the tissues connecting the teeth and jaw.
If left untreated, oral disease releases bacteria into your pet’s bloodstream through inflamed and bleeding gums and can lead to disease of the liver, kidneys, lungs and heart, as well as diabetes complications and even cancer.
This connection between organ damage and periodontal disease in pets is due to the bacteria growing in their mouth entering the bloodstream, damaging heart function, and then causing issues in other organs. These health issues are in addition to the more obvious problem of pain caused by eroded gums, and missing or damaged teeth.
At-home oral health care routines paired with dental treats can go a long way to helping your furry friend keep their teeth clean and control the buildup of plaque and tartar. Nonetheless, the best way to ensure that your cat or dog’s mouth stays clean and healthy is to take your pet to the vet for an annual dental exam and hygiene cleaning.
Skipping annual professional cleaning could put your pet at risk of developing gingivitis, periodontal disease, bad breath, and in severe cases pain, tooth decay, and tooth loss.
What will happen during my pet's dental care appointment?
To help prevent your pet from developing tooth decay and periodontal disease, our Concord vets at Four Corners Veterinary Hospital recommend bringing your pet in for a dental appointment at least once each year, or more frequently if they are suffering from more severe or recurring dental problems.
When you bring your pet to Four Corners Veterinary Hospital for a dental checkup our vets will perform a full oral examination for your companion and check for signs of dental issues, such as:
- Redness of the gums
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Discolored teeth
- Broken teeth
- Tenderness around the mouth and/or teeth
- Drooling or dropping food
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Loss of appetite/poor appetite
- Weight loss
If you detect symptoms of periodontal disease in your pet, such as reduced appetite (which can be an indication of tooth pain), abnormal chewing, drooling, dropping food from the mouth, bad breath or other symptoms be sure to contact your vet right away to schedule a dental appointment for your pet. Oral health issues can become severe if left untreated and cause your pet a great deal of pain and discomfort.
Our veterinarians assess all pets to ensure that they are healthy enough to handle anesthesia and conduct additional diagnostics if required to ensure that a dental exam while anesthetized is safe for your pet. Once your pet is safely sedated, we will perform a full tooth-by-tooth examination, complete with charting, (just like your dentist does during your examinations).
While we have your pet safely and comfortably under anesthesia, we will thoroughly clean and polish their teeth, both above and below the gum line. We probe and X-ray the teeth, then to help protect against future decay and damage we use a fluoride treatment before applying a dental sealant to prevent plaque buildup.
If your pooch is suffering from advanced periodontal disease, we will work with you to develop a treatment plan to help restore your pet's mouth to a pain-free and healthy state.
Should I brush my pet's teeth?
Pet parents play an essential role in helping pets fight dental disease. Learning how to clean a pet's mouth, and protect the health of their teeth could help to save you money on professional canine dental care later. Here are a few easy ways that you can help to keep your pet's mouth healthy and how to clean your pet's teeth:
- Use a finger brush from your vet, or a child’s toothbrush to brush your pet’s teeth daily to remove any plaque or debris. It's a simple as brushing your own teeth. If your pet resists having their teeth cleaned try some specially designed pet toothpaste in flavors they will find irresistible. These special toothpastes can turn a chore into a treat.
- Use a plaque prevention product (your vet can recommend some), which you can apply to your pet’s teeth and gums. These products act as a barrier to prevent plaque buildup.
- For dogs, treats such as dental chews or food designed to help prevent plaque buildup and tartar are an easy alternative.
- There are also oral cleaning wipes, gel, and water additives to help maintain good oral hygiene.
Dental care is an important part of your pet's overall health. Be sure to book your pet's annual dental appointment today, your pet will thank you. If you do not know how to brush your pet's teeth, our Concord vets can help sow you some easy techniques.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.