Pet Dental Health
By: Faith P.
Pet Dental Health: There are many areas to consider for your pet’s health, and one of these areas not often discussed is their dental health. You often hear of diet tips and ways to keep your pet active, but no one seems to mention your pet’s chompers. Here is what you should know about your pet’s dental health and a couple of tips to help keep it healthy.
What is Dental Health?
Dental health, like with people, refers to the health of your pet’s teeth. It is considered veterinary dentistry. Veterinary dentistry includes cleansing, adjustment, filing, removal, or repair of the teeth and other aspects of oral health. Dental procedures should always be performed by a veterinarian or a certified veterinary dentist; vet techs may also perform some dental procedures, but only with the supervision of a veterinarian.
Vets will often use x-rays in dental care to quickly check your pet’s teeth, gumline, and roots. When your pet gets their teeth cleaned, they go through a similar process compared with your own teeth cleanings with your dentist.
Why is it Important?
Dental disease can affect your pet in a couple of different ways. The first would be the constant presence of bad breath. It may seem mild, but if your pet has persistent bad breath, it could mean they are possibly suffering from dental disease. Another thing that could happen is the loss of teeth. When the support structures of your pets’ teeth are infected, they can fall out. Having dental disease will cause a lot of pain in your pets’ mouth, so make sure to bring your pet to the vet if it looks like their mouths are in pain. The worst that can happen is possible organ damage. The bacteria found in the teeth plaque can travel through your pets’ body in the bloodstream. This allows the bacteria to reach essential organs like the heart, kidneys, and liver.
There are four stages of dental disease that you should know.
- Plaque accumulation: There is a thin layer of bacteria on top of the teeth. Some signs of this may be staining of the teeth and bad breath. If this is not taken care of, the layer of bacteria begins to harden.
- Tartar Build-up: When plaque has hardened, it is called tartar. Tartar can be formed both above and below the gumline. Unlike plaque, which you can remove on your own, tartar must be removed by a vet.
- Gum Inflammation: Gum inflammation is also known as Gingivitis. If you manage to treat it promptly, then the effects may be able to be reversed. However, if not treated quickly, this could result in the loss of teeth. The inflammation of the gums also allows bacteria into the bloodstream.
- Gum separation: Gum separation may also be called Periodontitis. Once the bacteria enters the bloodstream, it now has access to vital organs such as the heart, kidneys, and liver. The bacteria can now cause diseases in those organs. When gum separation occurs, the effects are now permanent.
There are some symptoms of dental disease you can look for to keep your pet healthy. These symptoms include bad breath, broken or loose teeth, extra teeth, discoloured teeth, teeth covered in tartar, unusual chewing or drooling, dropping food from their mouth, smaller appetite, mouth pain, bleeding from the mouth, and swelling in the mouth. If these symptoms show your or pet has a behaviour change, you should take your pet to the vet and get their teeth checked out.
Helpful Tips to Keep Your Pet Healthy
There are many helpful tips to keep your pet’s teeth and gums healthy; these are just three. Discuss with your veterinarian what would be best for your pet.
- Brush: Like you brush your teeth every day, you should also brush your pet’s teeth daily or at least every other day. The brushing prevents the build-up of plaque which helps avoid the more dangerous stages of dental disease. Introduce brushing into the routine in small steps and very gently so your pet will not be afraid of brushing their teeth.
- Check Every Week: Having a weekly check allows you to see if any tartar has formed and enables you to check the health of their gums. The gums should be pink; if the gums are white or red, there may be issues.
- Less Treats: You can still give your pets their well-deserved treats, but don’t feed them too many. Like people, when your pets have too many treats, it isn’t good for their teeth; even healthy treats from the vet should not be given in excess.
It would be best if you kept an eye on your pets’ dental health; many owners easily forget it, but the effects can be dangerous for your pet. It doesn’t take much to avoid, so giving a couple of minutes of your day to brush your pets’ teeth and check to see any issues should be nothing.