Just like humans, our pet’s dental health is a very important part of their overall physical health. Having a veterinarian check your pet’s teeth at least once a year is advised, along with providing teeth brushing to your furry friend’s teeth on a daily basis.
Pet Periodontal Disease
By the time your pet is 3 years old, they will very likely have some evidence of periodontal disease, which will worsen as your pet ages, if preventive measures are not taken. Since advanced periodontal disease can cause severe health problems for your pet, it is critical for early detection and treatment. Besides affecting your pet’s mouth, common health problems associated with pet periodontal disease include kidney, liver and heart disease.
Signs of Dental Problems
Some pets become irritable when experiencing dental problems, and any of the following signs should encourage you to have a veterinarian promptly examine your pet’s teeth:
- bad breath
- discolored or tartar-covered teeth
- broken or loose teeth
- reduced appetite
- abnormal chewing or drooling
- pain or bleeding in or around the mouth
- swelling and redness around the mouth or gums
Professional Teeth Cleaning for Pets
Your veterinarian will first assess whether or not your pet is healthy enough for anesthesia, and perform any additional diagnostics. If it is safe to proceed, once the pet is safely anesthetized, a complete tooth-by-tooth oral exam is performed. The dental cleaning will include scaling to remove dental plaque and tartar, as well as teeth polishing. X-rays may also be done, in order to evaluate the health of the jaw and roots below the gumline. Furthermore, a fluoride treatment will be provided as well as a dental sealant to help fight plaque. These dental cleanings are very similar to the process taken to professionally clean our own teeth.
In-Home Pet Dental Care and Teeth Brushing
Pet parents can help maintain their pet’s health by brushing their pet’s teeth daily and removing any debris or plaque with a finger brush. It is important to only use toothpaste specifically designed for pets, as they have a different pH than human toothpaste. There are also a variety of pet toothbrush sizes or finger brushes you can use, depending on the size of your pet. Furthermore, a veterinarian can make a recommendation for a plaque prevention product, which is applied to your pet’s teeth and gums and can be used to help prevent buildup of plaque. Lastly, you can provide your pet with dental chews or treats that are designed to help prevent plaque buildup and tartar.
National Pet Dental Health Month
February is celebrated as National Pet Dental Health Month to bring attention to your pet’s teeth and dental cleaning routine. Even though the month of February is used to promote dental care for pets, dental health should be a daily ritual for pet owners all year long. Your pet’s teeth and gums should be monitored closely and regularly, and your veterinarian should be consulted immediately if you notice any signs of potential dental problems with your pet.