The Importance of Dental Care for Pets

September 27, 2021
The Importance of Dental Care for Pets

What Is Dental Disease?

Dental disease affects the teeth, gums and structures that support and surround a pet's teeth. It begins with plaque buildup on the teeth. This plaque contains bacteria and food particles. Plaque that stays on the teeth hardens into tartar. When tartar is above the gum line, it's easily visible, and your veterinarian can remove it relatively easily during a professional dental cleaning.

However, looks can be deceiving. A set of pearly whites doesn't necessarily mean that your pet's mouth is healthy. Tartar that makes its way below the gum line is the real problem. Tartar below the gum line causes inflammation and not only damages the structures supporting the teeth but also causes infection. When dental disease reaches this stage, pets can experience serious dental problems and pain.

Signs that your pet has dental disease:

  • Broken teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Painful and bleeding mouth
  • Refusal or inability to eat and drink
  • Drooling

Why Dog Dental Care Is Important?

As a pet parent, you certainly want your pet to have a healthy mouth. Here are 5 reasons why good dental care is important:

  1. Preventing tooth loss. When the structures supporting a dog’s teeth become damaged or infected, the teeth loosen and fall out.
  2. Preventing bad breath. When your pet has a healthy mouth and healthy teeth, bad breath won't be a problem.
  3. Preventing oral pain. Dental disease, especially when it's severe, can be quite painful for pets.
  4. Preventing organ damage. Bacteria in the plaque can enter the bloodstream and spread to the heart, kidneys and liver. This spread of bacteria, called bacteremia, can damage organs and make pets quite sick.
  5. Preventing worsening dental disease. Because so many pets have dental disease by the time they're 3 years old, it can be difficult to prevent it from developing in the first place.

How Can I Get Plaque Off My Pet's Teeth?

Dental care for pets includes not only annual professional dental cleanings done at a veterinarian’s office but also regular at-home dental care. Here are a few things you can do at home to help maintain your pets teeth:

  • Brush your dog's teeth. Brushing your dog's teeth a few days a week is a great way to maintain good oral health. Use a dog safe toothpaste recommended by your veterinarian.
  • Give your pet dental treats. Not all dogs and cats like their teeth being brushed, try some dental treats that help remove tarter buildup and freshens breath.
  • Provide your dog with dental toys. Some are designed to clean a dog's teeth and even freshen breath. These toys are durable, so your dog can chew on it to their heart's content.

Professional pet teeth cleanings require general anesthesia to allow your veterinarian to clean above and below the gum line and ensure that your pet's entire mouth is cleaned. So, talk with your veterinarian to figure out the best options for your pet’s dental care routine.

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