Your pet’s oral health is extremely important as the buildup of plaque can lead to dental disease. It hardens into tartar that can spread from above the gum line to under it, resulting in pain, discomfort, and a lower quality of life. Dental plaque may even cause bacteremia—the presence of bacteria in the bloodstream—which can damage distant tissues and organs. Investing in preventative oral hygiene products to protect your pet’s teeth and gums is crucial to giving them a better life. Here’s what you should do.
1. Brush their teeth regularly
Establishing a dental hygiene routine from a young age is an excellent way to maintain optimal oral health through your pet’s lifetime. It should include brushing their teeth twice daily using a soft bristle toothbrush and an enzymatic pet toothpaste—it contains enzymes that break down food debris and bacteria in the mouth to lessen tartar buildup and eliminate bad breath.
If this is your first time cleaning your pet’s teeth, go slowly from tooth to tooth. You may wish to start with dental wipes and transition into using a toothbrush after a few sessions if your pet is below one year old. Although dental wipes are not as effective, it is a good start to get your pets used to having their teeth brushed. Remember to end each clean with a positive reinforcement, which includes praise, petting, or their favourite toy or game.
2. Annual dental checks
You will need to bring your pet down to the pet clinic for a dental examination at least once a year as part of the annual wellness checkup to ensure that plaque and tartar below their gum line are thoroughly removed. A preliminary assessment of oral health is made in the exam room, but a more thorough assessment and charting are performed under anaesthesia, along with radiographs.
This procedure cannot be performed safely without general anaesthesia, and it must only be conducted by trained veterinarians in order to prevent injuries, infections or tooth fractures.
A trip to the pet clinic also allows the veterinarian to inspect your pet’s mouth for any signs of oral health issues. Some signs of dental disease include bad breath, red and swollen gums, excessive drooling, and difficulty picking up food.
3. Dental treats and toys
Not all pets like getting their teeth brushed. If that’s the case for you, consider giving your pet dental treats and/or toys to help with maintaining clean teeth. Chew treats are intended to improve oral hygiene through their mildly abrasive action. However, they cannot replace tooth brushing.
Some dental chews are too hard and may hurt your pet’s teeth and gums. It is important to do plenty of research before buying one.
4. Watch your pet’s diet
The diet you’re feeding your pet has an impact on the amount of dental plaque on their teeth. “Dental diets” available today help reduce plaque and calculus through abrasion. They contain individual kibbles of sizes larger than regular non-dental diet kibbles, encouraging your pet to chew each piece. The increase in chewing aids in the removal of plaque on their teeth surface. Some dental diets also have coatings that bind to the salivary calcium of plaque to eliminate them.
At My Family Vet Clinic and Surgery, we provide dental scaling for dogs, cats, and other domestic animals using iM3 dental radiographs. Bring your pet down to our pet clinic for a check to protect them from dental diseases. We operate as a walk-in clinic and our operating hours can be found here.