The dental proverb, "Be true to your teeth or they will be false to you," is true not only for humans, but for pets as well. Unfortunately, false teeth for dogs and cats aren't an option, so our team of medical professionals are here to help you care for your pets teeth.
Proper dental care is important for your dog or cat. Pets need strong, healthy teeth for chewing, grooming and enjoying daily activities like fetching a stick or picking up a ball.
More importantly, pets need good teeth because dental disease, left untreated, can be life threatening. Bacteria from tooth decay and gum disease can work their way into your pet's bloodstream and produce infection in the heart, lungs and other parts of the body.
How Dental Disease Develops
Veterinarians estimate that 85 to 90 percent of all dogs and cats older than six years old suffer from some tooth decay and gum disease.
Just as in humans, deposits of plaque build up on their teeth. Plaque is an accumulation of old cells, saliva and bacteria.
If not removed, plaque will harden and turn into tartar, which creates inflammation in the gum tissue (gingivitis). This inflammation breaks down ligaments that connect teeth with bone and gum tissue (periodontitis). Bad breath (halitosis) is a noticeable side effect.
Advanced dental disease leads to broken teeth, infected abscesses, shifting teeth, and deep infection of the jaw bone, called osteomyelitis.
Keeping Your Pet's Smile Bright
Keys to preventing such problems include; a dry nutritional diet and regular veterinary checkups. Additionally, brushing your pet's teeth with a pet-specific toothpaste is very beneficial. Do not use human-grade toothpaste on your pets teeth. The high sodium content of human toothpastes makes them unsafe for pets. HRAH offers several veterinary brands within our hospital.
In addition, you can do the following to help ensure that your pet's teeth stay healthy.
- Feed your pet hard food; offer dental chews or lambs wool toys
- Look inside your pet's mouth from time to time. Do you see red gums? Bad breath? Yellow or brown teeth? These conditions indicate problems, and should be examined by your veterinarian, immediately.
- Bring your pet in for annual veterinary exam. We always check your pet's teeth during its examination.
- Have your pet's teeth cleaned and polished at least once a year. Routine cleaning and polishing will help maintain healthy teeth. In more advanced dental disease cases, more frequent cleaning may be necessary.
Taking good care of your pet's teeth isn't frivolous or extravagant. It's an important part of overall health maintenance that will ensure a long, happy and healthy life for your cat or dog.