Dental Care

It’s not just about a pretty smile. Keeping up with dental health is an important factor in maintaining your pet’s overall well-being. Oral health problems can both lead to additional health issues as well as result from underlying illnesses. Therefore, proper dental care is just as necessary as routine checkups, exercise and healthy eating for your pets.

What is Veterinary Dentistry

Cleaning, polishing, diagnosing and treating dental conditions are just some of the components of veterinary dentistry. Since pets won’t hold their mouth open like people do during dental cleanings, it is essential that the procedure be performed under anesthesia. The doctor will conduct an oral exam and evaluate the condition of your pet’s teeth, then make recommendations for any needed treatments. This could involve extractions or additional treatments and diagnosis that may be needed. Technicians, like dental hygienists, will remove dental plaque and tartar, called scaling, and polish the teeth to create a barrier to help protect them.

Oral Heath in Dogs and Cats

It is generally recommended that your get your pet’s teeth are examined by a veterinary dentist at least once a year. If you notice any of the following symptoms, it may be a good idea to have them looked at even sooner:

  • Bad Breath
  • Missing or broken teeth
  • Extra teeth or baby teeth in adult pets
  • Refusal to eat
  • Pain, bleeding, or swelling in and/or around the mouth
  • Abnormal chewing, drooling, or dropping food from the mouth

Take caution when examining your pet’s mouth, as it might be painful and they may bite.

Causes of Dental Problems

If you didn’t know, cavities are less common in animals than people, however, they can still develop many of the same dental issues as us, including:

  • Periodontal disease
  • Broken teeth and roots
  • Abscesses or infected teeth
  • Malocclusion or misalignment of bite
  • Broken or fractured jaw

The most common affliction affecting both dogs and cats is periodontal disease. By age 3 your pet will likely show some of the early symptoms so it’s advised that you be proactive in preventative measures or it will just get worse with time. Periodontal disease doesn’t just affect your pet’s mouth, it can also cause problems with the kidneys, liver, and heart.

Plaque and tartar will naturally build on your pet’s teeth, but while tartar can easily be detected and removed above the gum line, if left to spread below the gum line it is likely to lead to infection and damage to the jaw. Early detection is crucial and your veterinarian will make recommendations based on your pet’s health overall along with their oral health and from there will give you options to consider.

Here’s What You Can Do at Home

Removing dental plaque by regular brushing is the best way to prevent the most common oral diseases. Daily brushing is best but brushing several times a week also works if your schedule is a little hectic. Dogs are typically more accommodating to brushing than cats, so patience and training are critical. You can start training your pet by routinely handling their mouth. Be sure to talk with your veterinarian about the dental products, diets, and treats most appropriate for your pet.