Good dental care is important not only for your pet’s oral health but poor dental hygiene can also lead to more serious health issues, such as kidney and heart disease.
Did you know that 85% of dogs and 70% of cats already have periodontal disease by age 3? And just by preventing periodontal disease your pet can live a longer, healthier life. Common signs of periodontal disease are bad breath, excessive drooling, broken teeth, reluctance to eat or play with toys, and pawing or rubbing of the face. Sneezing and even eye infections can be simply related to poor oral health. Periodontal disease can lead to tooth decay and gingival infections, spreading bacteria through the bloodstream, eventually damaging major organs.
Proper dental care begins with an oral exam and dental scoring by your veterinarian; then a home dental program should be instituted. Your veterinarian will stage your pet’s teeth: Stage 1– red, swollen gums, plaque on teeth; Stage 2– bad breath, plaque and calculus on teeth, reversible damage; Stage 3– plaque and calculus, bleeding gums, bad breath, permanent damage; Stage 4– gingivitis, bleeding gums, pus, bad breath, tooth loss, permanent damage.
After veterinary care, a home plan should be implemented. Preventative care involves brushing and daily examination of your pet’s mouth. Brushing needs to be done at least 3-4 times a week if you want to make a difference in your pet’s health. Dental treats, wipes, rinses and gels can also be incorporated into an oral health program.
Dental do’s and dental don’ts:
- Do begin brushing with just toothpaste on your finger to get your pet used to having something in his mouth, before working up to a brush.
- Do try to perform dental home care at least once daily. Brushing is best, but on days that you cannot brush then give a dental chew.
- Don’t use human toothpaste on your pet.
- Don’t attempt to clean the inner surface of your pet’s teeth. Natural saliva cleans this surface on its own.
- Don’t consider dental home care as an alternative to full dental cleaning if your pet has more advanced dental disease.