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Feb 10 2015

Pet Dental Care: To Brush Or Not To Brush

The combination of sharp teeth, powerful jaws, and an unwilling participant creates a challenging situation for many pet owners attempting dental care at home. True, it can be daunting to convince your struggling, yowling pet that teeth brushing is really good idea; but it doesn’t have to be this way!

If you are trying to work up the gumption to get into your pet’s mouth, we are here to help you integrate pet dental dental care into your daily routine.

Why Pet Dental Care Matters

Periodontal disease (gum disease) is the most common disease we see and treat – about 80% of pets over 3 years old have it in one stage or another. Periodontal disease occurs when plaque accumulates on the teeth and gums. Tartar, which is made from the calcium salts in saliva, forms on uncleaned teeth and provides a rough surface for plaque to grow further.

The focus on pet dental care is due to the direct link between poor oral health and certain medical conditions, such as heart and liver disease, diabetes, and cancer. During your pet’s wellness exam we give attention to the conditions inside the mouth, on and around the gums, and teeth.

What Dental Health Means For Your Pet

It’s important to recognize the symptoms associated with dental disease as they relate to whole body health. An untreated oral infection can affect other parts of the body, such as the heart, kidneys, and liver.

Pay extra close attention to the following tell-tale signs and make an appointment for an exam:

  • Foul breath (halitosis)
  • Drooling
  • Broken or worn teeth
  • Discolored teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Swollen mouth, gums, or jaws
  • Bleeding from mouth
  • Loss of appetite or eating difficulty
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Inflamed gums
  • Pain while eating
  • Behavioral changes

Examinations Provide Great Insight

Depending on what we see at the exam, we may take digital x-rays to gain more information about what’s occurring beneath the gums. After recommended pre-anesthetic blood tests show suitable levels of kidney and liver function, your pet’s cleaning or dental treatment takes place under anesthesia.

Getting Into The Groove At Home

Did you know that brushing your teeth regularly can drastically reduce the risk of decay that leads to heart, kidney, and liver disease? Dedicated dental care at home is a critical part of your pet’s dental – and whole body –health. Daily brushing with an approved pet toothpaste (poultry or beef flavors are especially tasty for pets) is recommended to prevent plaque and tartar build up, bad breath, and oral infections. Never use human toothpastes, as they can make your pet ill.

We will work with you and your pet to minimize confusion and exasperation when learning optimal positioning and handling. Check out these informative links to support brushing your cat’s or dog’s teeth. And, above all, don’t give up. Your pet needs you to follow through and keep trying.

A Final Word On Pet Dental Care

Plaque and tartar can begin to form shortly after a professional cleaning so, you must keep up with at-home brushing. Over time, pets can even grow fond of (or, at least resigned to) the shared time with you.

You will be adding years to your pet’s life by staying vigilant and involved regarding the state of your pet’s teeth and gums.

As always, we are here to answer any questions or respond to your concerns.

Happy Brushing from all your friends at Blaine Area Pet Hospital!

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