Dental Disease and Teeth Cleanings in Pets

A dog having its teeth brushed

The Tooth, The Whole Tooth, and Nothing but the Tooth

Does your pet’s breath have an offensive odor? Did you know around 80% of pets we see have periodontal disease by age 3? Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissue surrounding the teeth. This disease starts with plaque buildup on the teeth and eventually leads to gingivitis.
Brushing your pet’s teeth or using special dental products designed to clean the teeth (dental chews) will help keep the plaque from hardening into tartar. The more tartar that accumulates the more plaque is allowed to accumulate; it’s a vicious, endless cycle. At this point, a professional dental cleaning may be required to manage it. 

Gingivitis : Catch it Early

The buildup of plaque leads to gingivitis, the inflammation of the gums. This causes the gums to become red and swollen, and they bleed easily. This is where a thorough dental cleaning should be performed to get rid of the plaque. Gingivitis is reversible, however, bone loss is not. If tartar and plaque are allowed to accumulate further, it will lead to an infection around the root of the tooth (periodontal disease). Ultimately, periodontal disease leads to the inflammation and destruction of tissues around the teeth, and tooth loss; this is very painful to your furry pal! Periodontal disease can also lead to other serious medical problems like liver disease, kidney disease, and heart disease. Thankfully, these problems can be easily avoided by implementing proper dental care!

Tips for a Healthier Mouth

  • Daily brushing is the BEST oral care regimen you can do for your pet.
  • Daily oral washes/rinses, chew treats (with anti-plaque ingredients), or specialized teeth-cleaning diets (Hill’s Science Diet T/D) are great alternatives to tooth-brushing.
  • Check your pet’s mouth once a month for foul-smelling odors, reddened areas, swollen gums, missing teeth, unusual colors, growths, pus, or abnormal discharge. Let your veterinary know immediately if you see anything unusual!
  • Bring your pet in once a year for a wellness exam; your veterinarian will examine your pet’s mouth thoroughly to make sure there’s no problems that you missed at home. Any issues can be addressed early and taken care of before they get out of hand.
  • Schedule your pet for regular dental cleanings by your veterinarian. Sedating or putting your pet under anesthesia is the safest and most comfortable way to have your pet’s teeth cleaned; when you’re at the dentist, you understand what the doctor is doing even though it’s uncomfortable and can be painful at times. Dogs and cats cannot understand this and will become stressed and may even bite. Most dental disease occurs below the gum line, unseen, so pets need to be sedated and special tools are used to scale the tartar from under the gum line. 
*Don’t let anesthesia stop you from having your pet’s teeth cleaned! *
Sedating your beloved pet may sound scary, but it’s not as bad as it sounds. Before your veterinarian begins the procedure, pre-anesthetic bloodwork may be required to ensure your pet is healthy enough for the cleaning.

Benefits Outweigh the Risks

The benefits of dental cleanings for your pet definitely outweigh the rinks associated with anesthesia. After your pet’s dental cleaning, his breath will smell better, his teeth will be whiter, but most importantly, his gums and teeth will stay healthy and his major organs (such as the heart, liver, and kidney) will be protected from the potential damages from dental disease. 
Call us at 309-543-2091 to schedule an oral exam or teeth cleaning for your pet!

posted in:  Pet Safety