This February, celebrate National Pet Dental Health Month with Parkside Animal Hospital and learn how to take care of your pet’s teeth.
By three years of age, most dogs and cats have some form of periodontal disease (also called gum or dental disease). Aside from gum recession, infection, pain, and tooth loss, periodontal disease can cause changes in a pet’s heart, kidneys, and liver, making dental care a big priority.
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is the infection of the gums and other structures that surround teeth:
- Plaque forms on teeth constantly (just like in humans). When not removed promptly (through brushing), it changes into hardened tartar within about 24 hours. Plaque continues to form on top of the tartar.
- If the bacteria-laden tartar under the gumline isn’t removed by a veterinary cleaning, gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) occurs, which will progress to infection and loss of tooth support (advanced periodontal disease).
Pets that don’t receive regular dental care, often need more than just a cleaning. Dental extractions may be required to remove infected teeth and make a pet’s mouth healthy again.
What are signs of dental problems in pets?
Contact us if you notice:
- Bad breath
- Brown or yellow teeth
- Red gums (gingivitis)
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Broken or loose teeth
- Reluctance to eat or chew or preference for soft food
- Dropping food from the mouth
- Chewing abnormally
- Excessive drooling
- Pawing at the mouth or face
How can you help keep your pet’s mouth healthy?
1. Make home care a priority
Brushing your pet’s teeth is the cornerstone of dental care and the best way to slow dental disease. We recommend starting this right away for puppies and kittens and have lots on tips on how to get started.
Never use human toothpaste in pets. It contains ingredients that can make your pet sick.
Although daily brushing is ideal, we understand that it may not always be practical. Fortunately, many dental products can help reduce plaque and tartar buildup in your pet:
- Dental diets and chews
- Dental toys
- Oral rinses and sprays
- Drinking water additives
Ask us which products we recommend for your pet. You can also look for products with the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) Seal of Acceptance.
- Bring your pet in for a dental exam
Bringing your pet in for regular veterinary dental health exams and cleanings (as recommended by Dr. Zak) is the first step to achieving better dental health for your dog or cat.
White teeth do not necessarily mean healthy teeth!
We can only assess about 40% of a dog or cat’s teeth by just looking at them. This is why, during your pet’s dental procedure, we use x-rays to show us what might be lurking unseen, such as painful root disease, tooth resorption, or the extent of a cracked tooth. Knowing this, we can be sure we’re giving your pet the right treatment.
Our team also takes plenty of precautions to make sure all dental procedures stay as safe as possible for our patients:
- Preanesthetic bloodwork is assessed before being given anesthesia to ensure that pets are healthy enough to it, and to tailor anesthesia medications to individual pets as needed.
- We have a dedicated veterinary technician who actively monitor pets during and after all dental procedures. This individual is dedicated to making sure that a pet’s vital signs stay within normal ranges, similar to protocols used when people undergo anesthesia.
During a dental cleaning, a specially trained veterinary technician will remove plaque and tartar buildup from both above and below the gumline. Then they polish your pet’s teeth to smooth the surface of each tooth which can help slow future buildup of tartar.
If your pet needs any additional dental care, such as extractions, we’ll make sure you understand what needs to be done and why.
Have you scheduled your pet’s next dental exam?
We recommend that pets visit us at least once a year for an oral health evaluation. Dr. Zak will examine your pet’s teeth and gums and let you know what he recommends for your pet’s ongoing health.
If your pet is showing signs of dental trouble, don’t wait for your pet’s annual exam. Call us or make an appointment today!