According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have oral disease by the age of 3. It is the most frequently diagnosed health problem in pets. Common signs of oral disease include tartar buildup, red and swollen gums, bad breath, changes in eating or chewing habits, pawing at the face and generalized depression.
efore: Heavy tartar can be seen on all teeth
After: The tartar is removed from the teeth and they are polished. Because of heavy tartar buildup, two of the upper teeth and one lower tooth had to be extracted.
A veterinarian should evaluate your pet's dental health at least once a year. We recommend this because bacteria and food debris accumulates around a pet's teeth and, if left unchecked, will lead to deterioration of the soft tissue and bone surrounding the teeth. This decay results in irreversible periodontal disease and even tooth loss.
There are other reasons why you should pay close attention to your pet's dental health. Dental disease can affect other organs in the body: bacteria in the mouth can get into the blood stream and may cause serious kidney infections, liver disease, lung disease, and heart valve disease. Oral disease can also indicate that another disease process is occurring elsewhere in a pet's body. A thorough physical exam combined with appropriate laboratory work can determine if this is the case.
We can recommend and demonstrate preventative measures you can begin at home. Our wellness program emphasizes and explains how you can avoid costly dental procedures with your pet in the future.
Diet can play a major roll in dental health. We recommend Science Diet Healthy Advantage to help prevent and even treat tartar build-up.
How to brush your pet's teeth
To teach your pet to accept brushing, you must be gentle and begin slowly. Select a small, soft toothbrush and atoothpaste formulated for pets, (CET paste). Try to brush your pet’s teeth once daily or at least twice weekly.
To get your pet accustomed to having its teeth brushed, start by placing a small amount of flavored pet toothpaste on your finger, and offer it daily for several days as a reward or treat. Once your pet accepts toothpaste as a reward, you may move on. If your pet is not used to having its mouth handled, begin by just using a finger with gauze or a washcloth to wipe the surface of all of the teeth. Next, add the toothpaste for a few days. Once your pet has adjusted to your the finger and toothpaste, you can introduce the brush. Finger brushes are available for those who may find them easier than a regular brush.
The proper technique is to angle the bristles of the brush 45° to the gum line, so that they clean under the gum. The brush should be moved in a gentle, oval pattern. Be sure the brush enters the space between the teeth as well. Normally, it is only necessary to brush the outside surface, but if you can, brush the inside surface also.
An excellent follow up is to use an antiseptic rinse, such as Oraldent. It will help disinfect the mouth, reducing plaque and breath odor.