Most of us don’t think twice about brushing our teeth a couple of times a day or going to the dentist for a check-up and cleaning every six months or so. We try to brush our pet’s teeth every day, but do we take our pets to the veterinarian for regular check-ups or periodic cleanings? Plaque and tartar can build up just as easily on your pet’s teeth if dental care isn’t a part of your daily routine or your pet doesn’t have regular veterinary care. Serious dental disease can result and impact more than just your pet’s teeth and gums.
It’s not just “bad breath” that you are combatting when your pet has a check-up and cleaning. Dental disease – or periodontal disease – is a serious health condition. Periodontal disease is the result of plaque and tartar build-up under the gums. Because plaque contains millions of bacteria, plaque and tartar build-up cause inflammation and infection of the tissues surrounding the teeth. It can cause eroded gums, broken teeth, severe pain, and even bone loss to the jaw.
Bacteria under the gum line can affect other areas of your pet’s body too. Bacteria from the mouth can travel throughout the body and put your pet at greater risk of developing heart, kidney, and liver disease, and complications from diabetes.
You can help prevent periodontal disease by using dental products recommended by your veterinarian or products that have the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) Seal of Acceptance. These products have been proven to slow the development of plaque and/or tartar in pets and include diets, rawhide chews, edible treats, water additives, wipes, oral sprays, and toothpastes. Be cautious of products that make claims of whitening teeth if there is no VOHC seal.
Avoid giving your dog or cat products that are too hard – hard bones can break or chip teeth – dental treats and toy bones should bend.
If you don’t know how to brush your dog’s teeth, ask your veterinary health team for help. They can advise you on how to hold your pet and position the toothbrush, and give you tips for a successful, stress-free brushing session!
Daily brushing, treats, and water additives can help keep periodontal disease at bay, but a yearly exam by your veterinarian is important. Your veterinarian will assess your pet’s gums and teeth, look for signs of inflammation and infection, and may recommend a cleaning or tooth extraction if periodontal disease is present.
Regular wellness checks with your veterinarian and daily brushing will help your pet live a longer, healthier, and pain-free life!