Pet Dental Health
Dr. Christina Frick, DVM
February is National Pet Dental Health Month and a good time to become aware of the importance of proper care for your pet's pearly (or not-so-pearly) whites.
Bacteria in your pet's mouth can accumulate on his or her teeth and forms plaque and tarter buildup. This build-up may lead to periodontal disease and tooth loss. Periodontal disease is the most common disease of any kind in both cats and dogs. Dental care for you pet's teeth is an important part of overall health of an animal. The bacteria infections in the mouth can spread to other organs such as the heart, liver and kidneys.
Early signs of dental problems are bad breath and yellow-brown build-up on teeth. Signs of dental disease include painful tender, red and swollen gums. Pets may have some bleeding when they eat or chew. Some pets have abscesses and tooth loss.
Studies show that 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show sign of oral disease by the time they are 3 years old. Fortunately, oral disease can be controlled and in some cases reversed.
As part of your pet's annual exam, your pet will receive a health checkup that includes a thorough physical exam and a dental check. If there is a problem, a dental cleaning will be recommended. Small dogs tend to accumulate plaque and tarter more quickly.
Dental cleaning for your pets include cleaning, scaling and polishing, much like your own dentist does for you. Since pets are not good at opening and saying "Ahhh", your vet will use anesthesia. Some pets may go home on antibiotics after the dental.
Home dental care includes regular brushing and special pet foods with dental benefits. Your vet has many special brushes, pet toothpaste, and treats to maintain good healthy teeth. Only use pet toothpaste and not human paste, animals can get upset stomachs and do not need fluoride. Proper diet including crunchy food also helps promote healthy teeth and gums in addition to professional care. Human food should be avoided because it sticks to the pet's teeth.
It is never too late to start a good dental program for your pet. Call to set up a dental appointment.