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Dental Care

All of us know about the benefits of routine dental care for ourselves. Daily brushing and flossing, and regular visits to the dentist, keep our teeth and gums healthy and comfortable. Unfortunately, routine dental care is still an often-neglected item of dog and cat general health care. Your pets, as well as yourselves, deserve regular dental care.

After your pet reaches a few years of age, tartar begins to build up at the junction of his gums and teeth. If this tartar is not removed, it increases until it undermines the tissue and causes receding gums. The area then becomes infected. Infection leads to foul breath, as well as pain and a constant unsavory taste for the pet. If the situation is not soon remedied, severe gum infections, abscessed teeth and cheek ulcers will develop.

Chronic infections of the teeth and gums result in problems elsewhere in the body as well. Bacteria enter the bloodstream from infected teeth and cause infection in organs such as the liver, the kidneys, the heart and the joints. Good dental care lengthens pets’ lives on an average of 10 – 20% through the prevention of these secondary problems.

Miniature and toy breeds of dogs exhibit dental problems more frequently and much earlier in life than do the larger breeds. Cats are especially prone tap gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and cervical line lesions, a type of cavity that occurs at the gum line and eventually destroys the tooth. As a result of mouth pain cats may stop eating and show weight loss and nutritional disturbances.

You can help prevent dental problems in your pets by feeding a dry pet food. Daily or even weekly brushing of your dog or cat’s teeth with toothpaste made for pets will also help prevent tartar buildup. Ask your veterinarian about food and water additives that can help curb the buildup of tartar.  Milk bones, rawhide chew toys, and some specially designed rubber toys are all on the market to assist in this as well.

Just as with people your pets will still require regular dental exams, and cleaning or extractions as necessary. Under general anesthesia the teeth are cleaned with an ultrasound dental scaler much like the one your own dentist uses, and then polished. Polishing smoothes the surface of the teeth to help discourage future tartar formation. Your pet will also receive a fluoride treatment to help strengthen the teeth.