We all know that dental care for ourselves and our children is important. We brush at least two times a day, floss, and see our dentist twice a year for x-rays and a cleaning. But what would you say if we told you that pet dental care is just as important?
It’s true! Pets need healthy teeth and gums as much as we do, both for oral health and overall general health. If you never brushed or saw a dentist, you begin to get the picture of what skipping this preventive care can do. Regular preventive pet dental care can allow us to catch small problems before they become big, painful, and expensive issues.
Pet Dental Care
Pets age much faster than we do, and by the age of 4, more than 85% of dogs and cats have some form of dental disease. But many of us don’t realize this problem exists, until dental disease is advanced and painful for our pets.
Pets are masters at hiding discomfort, disease, and pain, and most of us don’t make a regular practice of looking inside our pet’s mouths. These factors make it tough to know if there’s a problem brewing. This is why Hampton Veterinary Hospital recommends oral examinations as part of a pet’s overall wellness examination every 6 months. Signs of dental disease include drooling, red and bleeding gums, messy eating, and bad breath.
Causes of Pet Dental Disease
The underlying cause of dental disease is bacteria in the mouth, caused by plaque and tartar. Bacteria sticks to this hardened plaque and tartar on the teeth and, if left undisturbed, migrates below the gumline to cause infection and painful tooth loss, and eventually widespread organ damage as the bacteria moves into the bloodstream.
Preventive Pet Dental Care
Luckily, dental disease is easily preventable with judicious pet dental care. Here’s what you can do to give your pet a healthy mouth.
Regular dental examinations – Your veterinarian will perform a thorough oral examination for dental disease at each of your pet’s wellness examinations. Regular exams are important, regardless of whether or not your pet seems well. During a preventive care exam, we’ll look inside your pet’s mouth and check their teeth and gums. A professional cleaning may be recommended if it is necessary to improve your pet’s overall health and well-being.
Professional dental cleaning & evaluation – because your pet doesn’t open their mouth for the dentist like you do, we often need a professional cleaning under general anesthesia to determine a complete picture of her oral health. During this exam, we can also probe under the gumline, clean and polish each tooth, and look for early signs of disease and problems like loose teeth and infection. We use x-rays to see under the gumline to visualize each tooth root, and we will extract any problem teeth that cannot be saved.
At home dental care – the process continues at home! You can help keep your pet’s mouth clean and healthy by brushing their teeth (it’s easier than you think). We may also recommend a dental diet, water or food additives, or dental chews, depending on your pet’s needs.
Pet dental care is a team effort. By working together, we can give your pet a healthier and longer life. Call our team at Hampton Veterinary Hospital today to schedule your pet’s dental exam, and let’s get started!