Veterinarian practices around the country consider February, dental month. Just like humans it is very important to have good dental hygiene for our four legged friends. Veterinary dental care has progressed over the years. Pets get their teeth scaled and polished (cleaned), dental radiographs, root canals and even dental braces.
Oral disease starts as gingivitis (gum inflammation) which is pink swelling of the gums around the teeth. Tartar and bacteria collects on the teeth, causing the bacteria to multiply. The bacteria produces enzymes that start to breakdown the surrounding structures of the gum, leading to tooth loss. This breakdown is Periodontal Disease which is an irreversible disease. Gingivitis with proper dental hygiene is preventable and reversible. Poor dental hygiene can affect other areas of the body. Without dental care the bacteria can build up and enter the blood stream, or if swallowed, may affect other organs. Signs of dental hygiene problems are, facial swelling, head shyness, eating on one side of the mouth, drooling, wanting soft food, not grooming (cats), chattering, tooth loss and bad breath.
There are a number of dental hygiene paraphernalia available for our four legged friends. There are even treats and dental health foods available. However, the best defense against tartar is daily brushing. There are a variety of toothpastes and flavors. Do not use human toothpaste. Consult your veterinarian about your four legged friends’ dental hygiene.
How to get started brushing:
- It is best to start brushing at a young age. However, even older pets can learn that good oral hygiene has it benefits.
- Go slow. First get your pets used to their mouth being touched. Lift their lips away from their teeth and open their mouth. Allow your pet to taste the toothpaste before trying to brush. Pet toothpaste comes in a variety of flavors. There are also different styles of toothbrushes available.
- Work towards brushing and take it slow. Use your finger first to get them used to something rubbing against their teeth.
- Start in the back of the mouth and move towards the front canines. Brushing up and down using extra care around the gums.
- Try to make it a rewarding experience for your four legged family member and don’t forget to offer treats!
A special thanks to “Eldrick” for being our star model and showing off your pearly whites!