Brushing and flossing your teeth is such an ingrained part of your daily routine, but has it ever crossed your mind that your pet may require the same regular dental care? Your pet’s oral hygiene can affect more than just her smile and her breath; poor dental health impacts organs throughout the body and can contribute to other potentially serious health conditions. But, not to worry: With all the dental health advancements in veterinary medicine, helping your furry pal maintain excellent oral hygiene is a breeze.
What is periodontal disease?
Did you know that about 85 percent of all pets have some level of periodontal disease by 3 years of age? Starting dental care early—ideally from the time those first baby incisors pop through the gums—will set a good foundation for healthy teeth and gums and help to prevent periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease affects the supporting tissues surrounding the teeth and progresses quickly:
- Bacteria combines with food particles to form plaque on the teeth.
- Within days, minerals within saliva bond with the plaque to form tartar, a substance that strongly adheres to the teeth.
- Bacteria works its way under the gum line, causing inflammation of the gums.
- Gingivitis caused by the bacteria under the gums also destroys the supporting tissue surrounding the teeth, leading to tooth loss.
Because periodontal disease can develop rather quickly, staying on top of good oral hygiene practices is crucial to keeping your pet’s mouth healthy.
Why is oral hygiene important?
Poor oral hygiene can result in a number of problems. Specific issues within the mouth include:
- Periodontal disease
- Tooth loss
- Bone loss
- Oral pain
- Abscesses and infections
- Excessive drooling
- Difficulty eating
In addition to keeping the mouth, teeth, tongue, and gums in good shape, regular dental cleanings help keep the entire body healthy. Bacteria in the mouth can be absorbed into the bloodstream and affect other organs, such as the:
If your pet already has a disease process occurring, the additional bacterial load from a dirty mouth can exacerbate heart, liver, or kidney disease. A healthy mouth makes for a healthy pet.
Why are regular dental cleanings important?
Even though brushing your pet’s teeth every day is the gold standard of dental care, few pet owners dedicate the time to do so. Pets untrained in tolerating a toothbrush are difficult to care for, and many people do not want to struggle with their pets to provide optimal dental care. Dental chews and other products may contribute some dental health benefits, but nothing can replace a thorough cleaning.
A dental cleaning can only be performed while a pet is under general anesthesia. Placing your pet under general anesthesia allows our veterinary team to obtain a complete picture of her dental health and provides her with a pain-free experience during the dental procedure. Removing tartar from under the gums, extracting diseased or broken teeth, or performing extensive oral surgery requires significant pain control. In addition, anesthesia keeps your pet still while dental radiographs are taken and the teeth are assessed for any problems.
Routine dental procedures give us the opportunity to remove bacteria from under the gum line plus all visible plaque and tarter. They help to eliminate possible infection sources in the mouth and organs and protect your pet from oral pain and eventual tooth loss. We’re able to address potential problems in the beginning stages before they progress and have a bigger impact on your pet’s overall health and quality of life.
Think of routine dental care as performing regular maintenance on your vehicle. A finely tuned machine runs at peak performance, and a clean, healthy mouth provides the same benefit to your furry companion’s overall health.
Ready to give your pet the gift of sparkling, pearly white teeth and fresh breath? Call our office at 303-400-7134 to schedule a comprehensive dental cleaning.