Importance of a Dental for Your Pet
Though pets are less likely to develop cavities which are the leading cause of tooth pain and other oral health problems in humans, they can develop serious problems with teeth and gums as well. And besides affecting their dental health, these can also seriously affect your pet’s overall health. To make sure that your pet’s teeth and gums are healthy, you should take your dog or cat to a vet for a dental exam and cleaning at least once a year. Just like in humans, dental problems in pets are a lot easier and less expensive to treat if detected early, not to mention a lot less painful too!
Causes of Dental Problems in Pets
As mentioned earlier, cavities are not as common in pets as in humans. However, both dogs and cats are prone to a host of dental problems which, just like cavities, can cause a lot of pain, tooth loss and even jeopardize their overall health. Periodontal disease is the most common cause of dental problems in pets and besides affecting oral health, it also puts dogs and cats at the increased risk of kidney, liver and heart disease. The good news is that periodontal disease can be both successfully prevented (or at least significantly postponed) and treated with regular dental cleaning and proper oral hygiene. The same goes for other common problems with teeth and gums.
Keeping Your Pet’s Teeth and Gums Healthy
Periodic dental cleaning which involves removal of plaque and tartar combined with regular tooth brushing is the best way to keep your pet’s teeth and gums healthy. Periodontal disease (as well as many other oral health problems) in dogs and cats are caused by plaque and tartar buildup. Unfortunately, the accumulation of plaque and its hardening into tartar can’t be prevented. Therefore it is crucial to have it periodically removed by your vet. In between dental cleanings, you are highly recommended to regularly brush your dog’s or cat’s teeth.
While tooth brushing can’t remove the built-up plaque and tartar, it will dramatically reduce their accumulation. It is recommended to brush your pet’s teeth on a daily basis but even occasional brushing is better than no brushing at all. The majority of dogs eventually allow tooth brushing. Cats, on the other hand, require a lot of patience and persistence.
Dental Cleaning Products not a Replacement for Tooth Brushing
Dental cleaning products including dental toys and treats can help maintain your pet’s dental health, however, they are not a replacement for tooth brushing. Also, not all have the same effect. If you would like to use dental cleaning products, ask your vet for advice.
When to See Your Vet
Even with the best dental care, dogs and cats can develop problems with teeth or gums, or both. If your pet is having any of the symptoms listed below, don’t wait for the annual dental checkup and call your vet right away:
– tooth discoloration
– broken tooth
– bad breath
– loss of appetite
– excessive drooling, difficulty chewing and/or eating
– bleeding from the mouth
– loose teeth
– pain around the mouth
– lumps in the mouth