Good dental care is as important for animals as it is for people. Chronic dental disease can lead to pain, tooth loss and bone loss. In addition, long-standing infected teeth and gums are known to lead to stress on vital organs and can definitely shorten life.
The question many pet owners have is: What can I do to keep my pet’s teeth healthy?
The answer begins with prevention. As with any disease, dental disease is easier to prevent than it is to treat. The most effective ways to keep pet’s teeth clean are:
- Regular brushing. Brushing pet’s teeth daily will remove plaque before it can mineralize into tartar. Long-term tartar buildup leads to gum disease and tooth loss. It’s never too early to start preventative dental care for pets.
- Dry food is ineffective at keeping teeth clean and it is not ideal nutritionally anyway.
- Dental care aids such as rinses, dental treats and oral sprays. When choosing these products, look for all natural ingredients such as plant enzymes and essential oils that will help reduce bacteria in your pet’s mouth.
- Raw bones. Giving pets an appropriate sized raw bone to chew on once weekly will help remove plaque and tartar. The bones have to be raw — cooked bones are too hard and pets can break their teeth chewing on them. Chicken necks can be used for small dogs and cats. Be certain to take the bone away when it becomes small enough for them to swallow a large piece.
Even with the best of care, most pets will need their teeth cleaned from time to time. Many pet owners ask about non-anesthetic dental cleanings. Here is the lowdown:
When done correctly and under the right conditions, a non-anesthetic dental cleaning can be a valuable part of an overall dental care program. Appropriate candidates are pets with mild tartar and gingivitis and no signs of severe underlying dental issues. A non-anesthetic cleaning must be done under direct veterinary supervision and by highly trained professionals in order to be safe and effective. Do not schedule a dental cleaning at a pet store or a groomer.
When more advanced dental disease is present or more severe issues are found during a non-anesthetic cleaning, a full anesthesia dental procedure is required.
Properly performed, general anesthesia is very safe for pets. Anesthesia is necessary in order to perform a deep cleaning and get full dental X-rays. All teeth are assessed by your veterinarian and a determination will be made if extractions are necessary.
Once your pet’s teeth are cleaned, it is important to maintain them through the steps outlined above. The better preventative care you do, the fewer anesthetic dental proceedures will be needed in your pet’s lifetime. A non-anesthetic dental cleaning every 6-12 months is a very effective part of your pet’s dental care plan after a full anesthesia dental procedure.
Not only is prevention the better way to go for your pet’s health, it is also much more cost effective in the long run. Now get out there and start brushing