Dental health, It’s more than just stinky breath

It’s that time of year again, time to talk about teeth! February is known as dental health month but truthfully the dental health of our pets is important all year round. Can you imagine if you didn’t brush your teeth every day or had loose teeth in your mouth every time you ate? If you can’t imagine it, why should our pets?!

There are many symptoms of dental disease. As owners, we commonly think of bad breath or not wanting to eat due to pain or tooth root infections as indicators for dental disease. In actual fact, there are earlier signs that we can see, such as gingivitis (inflamed gums), tartar build up, excessive licking of the mouth, dropping food out of the mouth while eating, bleeding from the gums, even irritability (especially in your geriatric kitties). Catching dental disease early and taking action is the best medicine for both you and your pet.

I recommend starting from a young age in puppy and kittenhood! First, you play with your little one’s mouth and let them get acclimated to the toothbrush. They will lose all their baby teeth so it is not vital to actually brush these teeth but rather to get them used to the whole tooth brushing process. This will save you many hours of fighting later on and will lead to good positive brushing experiences. If you have an adult dog or cat its still not too late, see the video below produced by the AVMA© on how to brush your pets teeth!

Good preventative dental health consists of teeth brushing at least 3x a week if not daily, Oravet © chews or sealant, prescription dental diets such as Royal Canin© Dental, regular vet exams to grade dental disease and tartar build up, and prophylactic dentals where we scale and polish the teeth. We grade dental disease from 1 to 4 (see images below). Intervening at stage 1 or 2 can make a huge difference in your pets life!

Now the important part: why do we even care about early intervention with dental health? Most of the time we think of dental disease as an issue in the mouth, but did you know dental disease left untreated can lead to many other diseases? What?! How can this be? The main culprit in dental disease is bacteria, and this bacteria can get into the blood stream from the gum tissue. It has some favorite places to live in the body too! It can lead to significant heart, liver and kidney disease.

Also remember it’s not just cats and dogs that need good dental hygiene, but your exotic pets too!

So why don’t you make it your goal in February to come down and get your prophylactic dental kit, dental health exam and get proactive on your pets’ smile!