Your pet’s oral health is important to their eating and drinking comfort, but also for their overall wellbeing. Oral bacteria can destroy teeth and bone, and spread through your pet’s bloodstream, infecting vital organs, such as the heart, liver, and kidneys. Staying on top of your pet’s dental health care through regular at-home management and professional veterinary treatment is the best way to prevent the pain and infection associated with dental disease. Read our Staples Mill Animal Hospital team’s six easy ways to keep your pet’s mouth clean and disease-free. 

#1: Learn to spot dental disease signs in your pet

To ensure your pet receives the critical veterinary care to stop their oral pain and infection, you must be able to recognize your furry pal’s dental disease signs. If your pet has dental disease, they may refuse to eat dry food, chew on one side of their mouth, or drop food while eating. In addition to inspecting  your pet’s mouth regularly, be mindful of these dental disease signs:

  • Bad breath
  • Inflamed, swollen, or bleeding gums
  • Brown or yellow tartar accumulation on their teeth
  • Broken, loose, or missing teeth

#2: Choose veterinary-approved dental health products

To help brighten your furry pal’s smile and freshen their breath, give them products bearing the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s (VOHC’s) Registered Seal. VOHC-approved products slow plaque and tartar accumulation on your pet’s teeth. By giving your pet VOHC-approved chews, treats, food and water additives, and oral rinses and wipes, you help prolong the time between their dental cleanings and preserve their oral health.

#3: Teach your pet that toothbrushing is tasty

Your pet may react in fear when they view the toothbrush as a dangerous object coming at their face. However, by applying a pea-size amount of pet-friendly, flavored toothpaste to the brush, you can teach your pet how tasty and rewarding a toothbrushing can be. 

Without trying to brush their teeth, let your pet lick the meat- or cheese-flavored paste off the toothbrush. They will soon turn from being afraid of the toothbrush to welcoming this tasty treat provider. Once your pet is eagerly eating the toothpaste, try gently swiping the brush along the teeth inside their cheek. This approach is less intrusive than immediately forcing open your pet’s mouth and scrubbing their teeth’s inner surfaces. 

As you begin introducing your pet to this oral care routine, only brush as many teeth as they will allow, and always end a brushing session on a positive note by heaping on the praise. 

#4: Ask your veterinarian to prescribe a dental health diet for your pet

Although you may think feeding your pet a dry diet rather than canned food will provide oral health benefits, tartar does not appear to accumulate any quicker if your furry pal only eats canned food. However, if you switch your pet’s dry diet to a prescription dental health diet, their oral health will improve. 

Because of their mechanical and chemical properties, prescription dental diets are more effective than any other foods at reducing your pet’s tartar formation. Prescription diets have larger kibble pieces that remain intact when your pet bites into them, creating an abrasive, brush-like effect, rather than immediately shattering upon impact. Some dental diets also contain ingredients to chemically reduce tartar accumulation and prevent bad breath.

#5: Schedule regular professional dental exams for your pet

As you check your pet’s mouth for dental disease signs, you are only scraping potential problems’ surface. More than half—about 60%—of a tooth is hidden below the gumline, so you cannot completely assess your pet’s oral health at home. Schedule regular professional oral exams with our Staples Mill Animal Hospital veterinarian at least once per year, more frequently if necessary. A comprehensive oral exam consists of a visual exam of your sedated pet’s mouth and full-mouth dental X-rays. Sedation allows us to examine your pet safely, without causing them fear or discomfort, enabling us to take clear, diagnostic X-rays to spot periodontal issues below the gumline that would otherwise go undiagnosed.

#6: Learn why professional dental cleanings are so important to your pet’s oral health

Much of the tooth structure is covered by gingival tissue, which prevents a thorough cleaning through toothbrushing alone. In addition, toothbrushing alone does not remove stuck-on tartar, so professional dental instruments are necessary to remove these rock-solid oral bacteria chunks. During a professional dental cleaning, your veterinarian removes plaque and tartar above and below the gumline, leaving your pet with a thoroughly clean mouth. To complete your pet’s professional dental cleaning, we will polish their teeth to promote a smooth, bacteria-repelling surface that can help reduce future dental disease. 

When you take good care of your pet’s mouth, you help them avoid needless pain and infection. So, ensure our Staples Mill Animal Hospital team performs your pet’s regular professional oral care exams and dental cleanings. Give us a call to schedule your pet’s professional dental cleaning appointment.