Preventive Dental Care

Preventative Dental Care by Gwen Riley, L.V.T.

Dentistry

Did you know periodontal disease is the most common disease we see in dogs and cats? Over 68% of pets over the age of three have some degree of dental disease.

All mammals have bacteria in their mouths. The bacteria accumulates on surfaces of the teeth and forms a layer of plaque. Some of the plaque is removed naturally by chewing, but what is left behind will thicken and become mineralized. This is called tartar or calculus. The tartar presses on the gums and this will cause gingivitis, or inflammation and infection in the gum tissue. If the tartar is allowed to keep accumulating on the teeth it can cause gum recession and even root exposure, and severe bacterial infection. As the infection increases the bacteria is absorbed into the bloodstream and can be carried to other organs such as the heart, liver and kidneys.

Once plaque hardens into tartar, it is unable to be brushed off the tooth surface. This is when a professional dental cleaning is recommended. Your pet will be placed under anesthesia and we will use ultrasonic cleaning equipment to remove any plaque and calculous from his teeth.

In the early stages of dental disease, a cleaning can resolve gingivitis and infection. Gum recession and root exposure are some of the problems we see in advanced dental disease, and unfortunately these are permanent changes.

How can we prevent this from happening? Plaque is soft, and can easily be removed by brushing your pet’s teeth. Brushing is easiest if your pet is used to having his muzzle touched. If your pet is not used to this, it is best to start getting him accustomed to having his mouth handled before trying to brush his teeth.

Once your pet is comfortable with his mouth being handled, you can introduce a toothbrush and toothpaste. There are several kinds of toothbrushes available. A finger brush can be used to get your pet used to the brushing sensation, and a soft bristled brush can be introduced later. Be sure to use a toothpaste that is made for dogs and cats. Human toothpaste contain products that should not be swallowed. When brushing your pet’s teeth, slide the toothbrush under the lips and brush the outer surface of the teeth. This can be done for several seconds per side, and 2 to 4 times weekly.

Call us today and we can make an appointment for one of our technicians to teach you how to brush your pet’s teeth at no charge!