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Tips and Tricks

February is Dental Health Month

Why is Dental Care for My Pet Important?

tooth-brush-pet-dentalI ask you to take a moment and think about your morning routine. If it's anything like mine - it's hardly routine. It may change day to day, but there is probably one thing we all do as we are preparing for our day - and that's brushing our teeth. We have learned over the years that our oral health is important; and the cornerstone of our oral health is regular brushing, flossing and regular visits to our dentist. The same is true for our pets. I understand that many factors can prevent you from brushing your pet's teeth regularly- or even at all. There are many ways that we can care for our pet's oral health which do not include regular brushing.

The fact of the matter is that close to 80% of pets over the age of three have some form of periodontal disease. A 2013 study by VPI, a leading veterinary pet insurance company, shows that the cost of routine preventative care is $171 versus the cost to treat dental disease at $531.

Poor oral health in pets can lead to many problems, including bad breath, tooth decay or tooth loss, gum disease, heart and kidney disease and much more. All of these problems can mean shortened life spans and an unhappy pet.

If you notice any of the symptoms below, take your pet to visit your veterinarian:

    • Bleeding from the mouth
    • Frequent pawing or rubbing at the face and/or mouth
    • Reluctance to eat hard foods—for example, picking it up and then spitting it out
    • Bad breath—Most pets have breath that is less than fresh, but if it becomes truly repugnant, similar to the smell of a rotten egg, it’s a sign that periodontal disease has already started
    • Red, swollen gums and brownish teeth

Depending on the severity of the issue, there are many services and products that can help restore dental health, whether it be a full dental cleaning and polishing, change in diet, water additives, specialty chews or treats and more.  We do recommend routine cleanings for most pets to keep their teeth and gums in the best shape possible.

smiling-kittenWhat is involved in a dental cleaning?

During a dental cleaning, plaque and tartar are removed from a pet’s teeth, and the health of the entire mouth (tongue, gums, lips, and teeth) is assessed. A thorough dental cleaning can be accomplished only while the pet is under anesthesia. Anesthesia keeps your pet free of anxiety or pain during the dental procedure and allows your veterinarian to fully inspect the teeth and remove tartar from under the gums.

A dental cleaning may include the following:

    • Removal of visible plaque and tartar from the teeth
    • Elimination of plaque and tartar from under the gum
    • Probing of dental sockets to assess dental disease
    • Polishing to smooth enamel scratches that may attract bacteria
    • Dental radiographs (X-rays) to identify potential problems below the gum line
    • Application of fluoride or a dental sealer
    • Removal or repair of fractured or infected teeth
    • Dental charting so progression of dental disease can be monitored over time
    • Inspection of the lips, tongue, and entire mouth for growths, wounds, or other problems

What can I do to help their teeth at home?

Don't indulge your pet's sweet tooth since sugar can encourage bacterial growth.

Regularly give your pet a Veggie Dent Chew or TVH oral health care chew to help keep tartar and plaque at bay. Not only are dental chews a great way to keep your pet's teeth clean but is a way fun away to keep your pet entertained for hours. There are many other products on the market, ask your veterinarian which one would be best for your pet. Many chews available through grocery stores or other markets may contain preservatives or other additives which may not be good for your pet.

Brush your pet's teeth on a routine basis, two to three times per week. Although dental chews are a great, they should not substitute for a good teeth brushing. Purchase a special pet toothpaste & toothbrush, never use human toothpaste since pet's can not spit or rinse. The key to successful teeth brushing is to start your pet off slowly for your pet to adapt, be gentle and use positive reinforcement.

Oxyfresh Oral Hygiene Solution works in your pet’s water to reduce tartar build up.


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