In our culture, a sizable emphasis is placed on the prevention of all sorts of future problems. From debt to disease, poor credit scores to early mortality, we walk a fine, sometimes blurry line between success and disaster. This can also be said for our nation’s pets, especially when their dental health is taken into consideration. With good habits at home, pet dental care can take center stage for a lifetime of health and happiness.
Most pet owners turn a blind eye (or nose, in the case of puppy or kitty breath) to what’s going on inside a pet’s mouth. However, taking a moment every day to address gum color or tooth condition can go a long way toward the prevention of dental disease.
Periodontal disease, or gum disease, occurs without much advance notice. In fact, bad breath may be the first obvious sign your pet may have some form of the disease.
Bacteria in the mouth can not only cause enormous problems for the teeth and gums, it can also seep into the bloodstream, affecting the heart, liver, and kidneys.
If you’ve ever had a cavity, exposed nerve, or broken tooth, you understand the pain often associated with dental disease. Many pets will endure this pain and sensitivity for years before getting help. The good news is, this circumstance is entirely preventable!
A Good Combo
Between routine dental exams (usually paired with an overall wellness visit), digital x-rays, professional cleanings, and at-home care, your pet is well on the way to optimum health. We offer these tips for your home routine:
- Start brushing your pet’s teeth at home as soon as you adopt (adult teeth are usually in around 5-6 months).
- Make brushing part of a daily routine when your pet is relaxed and happy, like after a walk, meal, or part of grooming.
- Enjoy it! If you do, your pet will, too. Make it a fun and rewarding experience. Be relaxed, be patient, and don’t force tooth brushing on your pet. With guidance and time, he or she will accept it.
- Use only soft-bristled pet toothbrushes and only pet-safe toothpastes (never use products intended for humans).
- When brushing, employ a circular motion at a 45-degree angle. Pay attention to the gum line. Don’t forget the insides of the teeth!
- If possible, pet dental care should be tended to once a day and no less than 3 days per week. All it takes is a couple extra minutes to impact your pet’s future health.
Many Facets of Pet Dental Care
Even though at-home pet dental care is important, it doesn’t eliminate the need for regular exams, diagnostic imaging, and professional cleanings. Good habits do, however, help reduce or minimize the frequency of these procedures and can lower potential costs.
If you see a buildup of brownish coating on the gum line or on the surface of your pet’s teeth, it’s time to schedule a dental cleaning. Likewise, any redness, swelling, loose teeth, or signs of oral pain should be evaluated right away.
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Your veterinarian may have other suggestions, such as dietary changes, nutritional supplements, or dental chews to help prevent dental disease.