Pet Dental Care: Something to Smile About!

pet dental careMany of us are used to our own dental care routine: brush twice a day, floss, and see our dentist for a cleaning once or twice a year. Did you know that pet dental care is equally important? It’s true! Before you scoff at this, give us a chance to give you an overview of why dental care for pets really matters, and how it can actually improve your pet’s health, happiness, and longevity.

Dental disease is more common than you think. By the age of 3, an estimated 80% of dogs have some form of periodontal disease. Studies also show that between 50-90% of cats have dental disease by 4 years of age.

At All Creatures Veterinary Hospital of Brooklyn, we firmly believe that good oral health is a part of a comprehensive preventative care plan for all pets. Here are some of the reasons why pet dental care so important.

Why Regular Pet Dental Care Is Vital to Health

Preventing bad breath – Do you smell that? Bad breath in pets is not just par for the course; it actually means there is a problem in your pet’s mouth. Plaque and tartar, if not removed, can build up over time and cause infection, bacterial overgrowth, bleeding gums, and a terrible smell.

Avoiding painful teeth and gums – When your pet has an infection under their gum line, it causes pain and bleeding, and teeth can become loose and even break. Dogs, especially, can have painful breaks beneath the gum line, which can be hard to see without tools. Regular dental care can prevent this painful outcome.

Discouraging health problems – Aside from a painful mouth, other health problems can become issues if dental disease is not addressed. Bacteria from infected teeth and gums can be absorbed into the bloodstream and travel to the heart, kidneys, and liver.

Preventing mouth cancer – Common mouth cancers are highly aggressive, but also treatable if caught and treated early. Since most of us don’t look in our pets’ mouths on a regular basis, it’s important to have a veterinarian do a full oral exam and cleaning under general anesthesia at least once a year.

Saving money – Dental care may feel like an investment, but a regular cleaning once a year can save you money by preventing expensive problems later, like the need for an extraction.

Catching disease early – A common and painful condition in cats is called tooth resorption. The cause of the condition, in which the dentin of the tooth erodes away, is unknown, but it affects 20-60% of all cats (and close to 75% of cats over 5 years of age). If you notice that your cat is reluctant to eat, is chewing on one side only, or is swallowing food without chewing it, contact us right away for an evaluation.

Safe, Monitored Anesthesia

Some pet owners’ number one reason for putting off regular dental care is the fear of general anesthesia. It’s true that anesthesia poses limited risk, but anesthetic procedures are generally very safe. We have advanced monitoring equipment and highly skilled technicians monitoring your pet for safety, care, and comfort throughout their procedure.

Although non-anesthetic dental cleaning has been gaining in popularity, it’s not effective in removing plaque buildup and disease below the gum line. In fact, non-anesthetic dental cleanings can miss 50% of the disease happening under the gum line due to lack of radiographs. Partnering with an experienced and skilled veterinary dentist is crucial to an effective and safe dental cleaning.

The Bottom Line

Because pets are generally good at hiding pain, you may not know that they are experiencing dental problems until they’re very advanced. Preventative pet dental care means you’ll sleep better at night knowing that your pet’s mouth is in good shape. We can also help you with a home dental program that will contribute to great oral health. Brushing your pet’s teeth is easier than you think. We promise!

Give us a call, or schedule an appointment for your pet’s oral exam, and take the first step towards a healthier pet. You’ll be so glad you did!