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– severe plaque and calculus accumulation, bleeding gums, bad breath, permanent damage;
Stage 4– gingivitis, bleeding gums, pus, bad breath, tooth root exposure, tooth loss, permanent damage.
Before and after veterinary dental care, a home plan should be implemented. Preventative care involves brushing your pet's teeth and examinating your pet’s mouth. Brushing needs to be done at least 3 to 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 a pet toothpaste with your finger, or using a pet finger toothbrush, to get your pet used to having something in his mouth, before working up to a toothbrush specially made for pets.
- Do try to perform dental home care, once daily is best. Brushing is preferred, 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. Your pet's tongue and saliva clean 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. Even a Stage 1 dental score needs professional veterinary care to return your pet’s teeth to a healthy condition.