From an early age most of us are aware of our oral health and have been taught why a good teeth cleaning routine helps to keep our mouths healthy. However, many of us don’t appreciate just how important a good oral health routine is for our pets, too. Without a good level of oral hygiene, avoidable issues like cavities and gum disease can occur.
Just like with humans, the cleaner your pet’s teeth are, the healthier they are. One in three dogs suffer from periodontitis (gum disease) by the time they reach 3 years old, so it is important to keep our pets’ teeth as clean as possible.
Pets can have millions of bacteria in their mouth and many are harmful. When the sugar in the food that your pet eats interacts with the unhealthy bacteria, it causes plaque to form. A clear, sticky film that covers the enamel of the teeth, if it’s not removed with regular brushing it will harden and turn into darker, yellow-brown deposits on the teeth, called tartar. Unlike plaque, tartar can only be removed by a vet or hygienist with specialist equipment.
When plaque and tartar aren’t removed, the consequences can be severe. Both will spread onto the gum tissue, causing redness, irritation, and bleeding. Eventually, infections and abscesses can occur, and tooth loss will quickly follow. Studies have also found a definitive link between advanced gum disease and general health issues like diabetes, kidney disease, and heart problems – in humans and animals.
To help you avoid this, here are our top tips for keeping your pet’s teeth clean.
Many pet owners are surprised to discover that they need to brush their pet’s teeth – ideally just as often as they do their own! You can use a veterinary toothbrush or a soft human toothbrush. Just be sure to always use veterinary toothpaste, since human varieties can contain ingredients that are highly toxic to animals and could make your pet very sick. Daily brushing is the most effective way of removing plaque and preventing the formation of tartar. This will also keep your pet’s breath smelling as fresh as possible.
Chewing is not always viewed as a good habit for pets for obvious reasons, but the right type of chewing can be great for their teeth. This is because when your pet chews, it stimulates the production of saliva. Plenty of saliva can help wash away food particles left behind after eating, as well as some of the unhealthy bacteria in the mouth. Chewing the right products can also have an abrasive effect on the teeth, like brushing them with a toothbrush. Again, this supports cleaning and plaque removal.
When it comes to chewing, dental sticks are widely recommended by veterinarians. Check out those endorsed by the VOHC – Veterinary Oral Health Council. Dental sticks are designed specifically with the right ingredients to supplement the oral health of your pets and are also formulated with the right abrasiveness to aid cleaning your pets’ teeth while chewing.
Even if you do your very best to clean your pet’s teeth at home, the reality is that there will always be some areas (specifically, below the gumline) that are impossible to clean effectively. It’s these areas where plaque and tartar are most likely to build and put your pet’s oral health at risk. Fortunately, there’s a simple solution – a professional dental cleaning. Performed by a veterinary professional, under a general anesthetic, a professional dental cleaning is the best way to ensure the complete health of your pet’s teeth. Not only do veterinarians have the skill and experience to carry out a comprehensive cleaning, but they also have the specialty tools needed.
Most vets recommend that all pets have an annual dental clean, although the frequency may be increased if your pet is experiencing issues with their teeth.
If you have any questions regarding our tips for your pet’s oral health, our expert team are here to help!
To learn more about pet dental cleanings, call our veterinary team at Ramsgate Veterinary Clinic in Waco at (254) 848-4083 today to schedule an appointment.