Preventing Dental Disease in Pets: An At Home Guide

A dog having its teeth brushed

If you’ve snuggled up on the couch with your pet recently and noticed that their breath was – ahem – less than fresh, it may be time to schedule a pet dental exam. Bad breath is one of the signs of dental disease in pets, a common, but preventable problem.

Dental disease in pets is so common, in fact, that by the time pets are 4 years of age, over 85% of them have some form of periodontal disease.

Unfortunately, pets are very good at hiding signs of pain and discomfort from even their closest people. And make no mistake – dental disease is painful for your pet; aside from bad breath, dental disease in pets can cause swollen, bleeding gums, diseased and infected teeth, tooth loss or fracture, and even systemic disease when bacteria from the mouth enter your pet’s bloodstream.

That’s why All Creatures Veterinary Hospital of Brooklyn  believes in prevention. Luckily, dental disease can be controlled and even prevented with a team approach, which includes regular preventive dental exams, regular professional dental cleanings, and regular at home care – including daily tooth brushing.

Here, we’ll show you how.

Dental Disease in Pets

First things first. What, exactly, is periodontal disease in pets? It starts when bacteria in the mouth form plaque, which sticks to the teeth. Within days, minerals in the saliva cause the plaque to harden into tartar, and then dental calculus. This causes gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums. If left untreated, the bacteria then work their way under the gumline and begin to destroy the underlying tooth supporting structures, including gums, the tooth root, and even the bone below.

Pet Dental Basics

Think about how much plaque and tartar would build up on your teeth if you never brushed them or saw the dentist. We recommend you start with a clean slate, so to speak, so call us to schedule an oral evaluation in our office. At this exam, we can ensure your pet’s mouth and teeth are healthy, that there isn’t underlying disease causing loose or fractured teeth.  If your pet needs professional oral care, we can schedule for a professional dentistry. We are able to clean away all that plaque and tartar buildup with ultrasonic scaling and perform any procedures necessary to give your pet a clean, healthy, happy mouth!

Brushing Your Pet’s Teeth

Once your pet’s mouth is clean, let us help you start a daily toothbrushing plan. Did you just roll your eyes, giggle, or sigh? Bear with us! Brushing your pet’s teeth regularly doesn’t have to be impossible, though we recognize it takes time, patience, and practice. To help you, we are offering a free pet toothbrush and toothpaste, as well as helpful videos to get you started off on the right foot.

It’s true that starting to brush your pet’s teeth when they are young can go a long way toward making this task easier. But even older animals can learn to tolerate this gentle and daily attention. Stick with it, and contact us if you need assistance.

How to brush your dog’s teeth:

How to brush your cat’s teeth:

At Home Pet Dental Care

After your pet’s dental checkup, your veterinarian may recommend one or more other at home ideas that you can use to keep plaque and tartar at bay. Although nothing replaces tooth brushing on a regular basis (it’s the very best prevention there is!), there are a number of dental chews, rinses, and diets that can be beneficial for certain pets.

When it comes to dental chews, it’s important to note that they’re not all created equal. The Veterinary Oral Health Council is an independent organization created to share effective pet oral health products with pet parents and caretakers. Make sure whatever product you use has their seal of approval.

Preventing pet dental disease takes a commitment on your part. But the payoff is great. You’ll be giving your pet a healthier mouth, a longer life, and you’ll save your pet from discomfort and pain. We’ll do our part, too. If you have any questions or concerns about pet dental health or at home dental care, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our team is here to assist you in whatever way we can!