Most dogs and cats eventually need a professional dental cleaning using an ultrasonic scalier such as your dentist might use. We also hand scale the teeth under the gum line where tartar often accumulates (subgingival root planing), then polish the teeth to reduce the recurrence of tartar buildup.
Dentals are performed using the same inhalation anesthetic and careful monitoring techniques that we use for our surgical patients. Many pets have their teeth cleaned on an annual basis to help ensure optimal oral health.
Your Pet’s Dental Health
You should start brushing your pet’s teeth when he or she is young. Start slowly and make it fun! Use a toothpaste made for pets and a pet toothbrush, pediatric toothbrush or even a piece of gauze wrapped around your finger. Begin by cleaning the front surface of one or two teeth and you can gradually progress to include all teeth. Once accustomed to regular brushing, most pets seem to enjoy it.
There are also several foods available that are formulated to reduce tartar build-up. Eukanuba has incorporated a “Dental Defense System” in their diets. The food contains an enzyme that remains on the teeth after a meal, and helps reduce plaque formation. Hill’s offers a food for adult pets that is formulated to clean tartar off the teeth. It’s called t/d and is available only through veterinarians.
Adult cats and dogs with excessive tartar are constantly swallowing bacteria which may lead to kidney problems later in life. Your pet will benefit from a regular oral care program, but needs your help to do it!
Why Oral Healthcare is Important for Pets
For the sake of your pet’s health and comfort, periodontal disease is a threat that can’t be ignored. Many of the signs of the disease are hard to miss. Bad breath, discolored teeth, and swollen gums that may bleed easily can all be early indications of trouble. Late-stage periodontal disease can cause permanent damage, including loose teeth and tooth loss.
How Problems Begin
Periodontal disease begins when plaque, a mixture of bacteria and food debris, builds up on tooth surfaces and works its way under the gum line. Toxins released by the bacteria cause an inflammatory reaction that can lead to destruction of tissue and bone that anchor the teeth in place. If the bacteria enter the blood stream, they can even affect the heart, liver, and kidneys.
Serious and Common
Serious and Common Periodontal disease is not only serious, it’s also more common than most owners realize. In fact, more than 80% of dogs have it by the time they’re four years old. So, it’s easy to understand why periodontal disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem in pets.
Prevention is the Best Protection from Periodontal Disease
Preventing periodontal disease by keeping your pet’s teeth and gums healthy isn’t just a job for your veterinarian. It’s your job, too.
While nothing can take the place of regular visits to the veterinarian for checkups and cleaning, ongoing follow-up oral care at home is just as important in controlling plaque and tartar formation.
What to Expect after Your Pet’s Dental Cleaning
The way your veterinarian cleans your pet’s teeth is very similar to the way your dentist cleans your teeth, but pets are anesthetized during the procedure. Because of this, your veterinarian will give you feeding and home care instructions geared to the specific needs of your pet.
Why is it important to have my pet’s teeth cleaned regularly?
Like people, pets need regular dental cleaning to remove plaque and tartar buildup. If not removed, this buildup may lead to periodontal disease and more serious health problems.