Your pet’s dental health is an important part of their overall health and wellbeing, so understanding the ins and outs of oral health care is crucial to keep your furry pal’s mouth in great shape. Read on to discover seven need-to-know facts about your four-legged friend’s dental health.

#1: Dental disease begins much earlier in your pet’s life than you’d think

Many pet owners think that dental disease affects only older pets, but the condition actually begins early in life. As much as 90% of all pets have some form of dental disease by the time they are 2 to 3 years old. Dental disease is also a progressive disease that, left untreated, will worsen as your pet ages. 

#2: Dental disease affects more than your pet’s mouth

Although dental disease certainly affects your pet’s teeth, gums, and surrounding tissues, the condition also harms their entire body. As oral bacteria invade your pet’s mouth, they slip into the bloodstream through inflamed gums, and travel throughout the body. Bacteria latch onto your pet’s heart valves, causing heart disease, and can also attack the kidneys. 

#3: Regular oral exams and dental X-rays are essential for monitoring your pet’s dental health

While taking a quick peek at your pet’s teeth can help you spot obvious problems, a full oral exam and dental X-rays are essential for keeping an eye on their total dental health. During an oral exam, we’ll search for signs of infection, loose teeth, oral masses, and fractured teeth. Full-mouth dental X-rays help us see problems below the gum line, where 60% of the tooth structure lies. With X-rays, we can diagnose tooth-root abscesses, retained teeth, tooth resorption, and jawbone loss. Based on the information, we can create the best treatment plan for any of your pet’s oral health issues.

#4: Anesthesia makes dental care much safer and less stressful for your pet

If you have a pet who willingly opens their mouth and says, “Ah,” you are in the minority. Pets rarely appreciate their mouths being examined, and having their mouth manipulated, especially if they have painful dental disease, can be stressful. With a personalized anesthetic protocol, your pet won’t feel pain or anxiety about their procedure. In addition, we can move right into performing the dental cleaning and any necessary treatment after we’ve anesthetized your pet for their oral exam and dental X-rays, which eliminates the need for multiple appointments and additional sedation.

#5: At-home dental care is an integral part of a comprehensive oral health care plan

While veterinary dental cleanings are necessary for removing all plaque and tartar traces from your pet’s teeth, you need to stay on top of their oral health between dental cleanings. The same way you wouldn’t ignore your teeth at home in favor of visiting your dentist twice per year, you shouldn’t rely on your veterinarian to provide all your pet’s dental care.

The gold standard for at-home pet dental care is brushing their teeth daily. We know that life can get busy and brushing your pet’s teeth every day may not be possible, so create a well-rounded oral health care plan that includes additional therapies. Dental chews and treats, food and water additives, and dental wipes can also help support your pet’s oral health.

#6: Not all dental products are created equal

When searching for pet dental products, you can easily be overwhelmed by the wide assortment lining pet store shelves. To choose the most effective product, look for an item with the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal of acceptance. These products have been proven to slow plaque and tartar accumulation, so they will best preserve your pet’s dental health. 

#7: Professional dental cleanings do much more than cleaning your pet’s teeth

When your pet is scheduled for a dental cleaning at Gentle Touch Animal Hospital, they’ll receive much more than a professional toothbrushing. We will perform a comprehensive oral health assessment and treatment (COHAT), to thoroughly evaluate every tooth, above and below the gum line. We will chart any problems or abnormalities, and devise a solution. Next, we will remove plaque and tartar from each surface of the teeth, including below the gums. After we eradicate every trace of plaque and tartar from your pet’s teeth, we will polish away tiny microabrasions in the tooth enamel, to create a smooth surface that will help the teeth repel sticky plaque. After we’ve cleaned and polished your pet’s teeth, we’ll apply a fluoride treatment to help strengthen the enamel. This comprehensive cleaning helps remove harmful bacteria from your pet’s mouth, while shoring up the teeth’s defenses against attack.

Does your pet’s breath knock you out when they lean in for a slobbery kiss? If so, that could be a sign of dental disease. Schedule a COHAT with our Gentle Touch Animal Hospital team, to help freshen your furry pal’s breath.