|February is National Pet Dental Month. Now is a good a time as any to examine your pet's dental health. Your pet needs dental care from your veterinarian, as well as care at home from you. The risk of gingivitis and periodontal disease is the same for your pet as it is for people. Left untreated, bacteria build-up, plaque and tartar, can lead to infection and more severe health problems. The following are the common dental health problems that may affect your dog or cat:
Gingivitis … means an inflammation of the gums.
Periodontitis a general term for a disease of the oral cavity that attacks the gum and bone and delicate tissues around the teeth.
Pyorrhea inflammation of the gums and tooth sockets, often leading to loosening of the teeth and accompanied by pus.
Caries an area of decalcification of the tooth enamel leading to cavities in the tooth. Caries are very rare in dogs.
Plaque is the first buildup of material adhering to the enamel of the tooth and is composed of a mixed colony of bacteria in an intercellular matrix of bacteria, salivary polymers, remnants of epithelial cells and white blood cells. It can cause caries, calculi buildup and periodontal disease.
Calculus (Tartar) is calcium carbonate and calcium phosphate combined with organic material, deposited on the surface of the tooth.
How can I tell if my dog or cat has gum disease?
If your pet will allow it, open its mouth and look inside. Look for the warning signs of gum disease – bad breath, red and swollen gums, a yellow-brown crust of tartar around the gumline, and pain or bleeding when you touch the gums or mouth. Seek veterinary care if you notice any of these problems.
Signs of gingivitis and periodontal disease include:
Difficulty chewing or eating
Gums swollen or red, may bleed
Brownish-yellow calculus (tartar) on teeth
Loose or missing teeth
Tips on Brushing your Pet's Teeth
- Introduce a brushing program to pets gradually. Avoid over-restraining your pet and keep brushing sessions short and positive. A cat or small dog can be held in your lap. Praise and reassure your pet throughout the process.
- At first, dip a finger into beef bouillon for dogs or tuna water for cats. Rub the soaked finger gently over the pet's mouth and teeth. Make the initial sessions short and positive.
- Gradually, introduce gauze over the finger or a dental wipe, and gently scrub the teeth in a circular motion.
- After your pet is comfortable with the process, you can introduce a soft toothbrush designed for pets. Don't use toothpaste designed for people because it could upset the animal's stomach. Instead, use pet toothpaste.
- Finally, supplement brushing with a rinse designed especially for pets. This will prevent bad breath and kill bacteria.
- Dog Chews and Treats such as C.E.T. Dental Rewards and Greenies also help to clean teeth, strengthen gums and is a tasty treat for your pet.
Interesting Pet Dental Facts
Periodontal disease is the most prevalent disease among dogs and cats.
80% of dogs and 70% of cats over age three will require dental care during their lifetime.
Out of 100 animals examined for oral health, 60% require prophylaxis but only 17% receive prophylaxis treatment.