Home • At Home Pet Dental Care
Dogs and cats need to have their teeth cleaned on a regular basis. As in human mouths, the bacteria in plaque accumulates on the tooth surface and causes inflammation of the gums. Plaque then hardens and becomes tartar. But it is the bacteria that play an active role in the progression of inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) to gum disease (periodontitis). This disease can be reduced with daily home care, and better controlled with professional dental cleanings. If gingivitis is not treated properly and in a timely fashion, it can result in gingival recession and bone loss resulting in the necessity for tooth extractions. The oral bacteria can possibly affect soft tissue organs like the kidneys, liver, and heart.
We recommend professional teeth cleanings once a year and home care on a daily basis. Small dogs and cats need their first professional, preventive cleaning at 1 ½ to 2 years of age, and large dogs by age 3 to 3 ½.
Dr. Battig recommends home care on a daily basis. This includes cleaning your pet’s teeth with toothpaste formulated for dogs and cats, and eventually using a toothbrush with the toothpaste. You start with toothpaste on your finger to clean the tooth surfaces, then wrap a small piece of cloth or gauze around your finger, or use a finger brush, to change the texture. You only need to clean the outside of the teeth (the cheek side). To achieve optimal results, owners should use a soft-bristled toothbrush, along with toothpaste that is formulated for dogs and cats. The toothpaste is specially designed to appeal to your pet, and is available in such flavors as poultry, seafood, beef, malt, peanut butter, and vanilla-mint.
The dental diets that we recommend for plaque control are Hill’s t/d, Science Diet Oral Care, and Purina DH for cats. These diets are specially designed to remove plaque as your pet eats, and can result in a 40% reduction in plaque in felines, and a 29% reduction in canines. Contact your veterinarian to see which prescription diets they have available. There are also a variety of dental chews that you may use as treats, such as specific types of rawhide, firm rubber toys, stuffed animals, knotted ropes, and the list goes on. Visit the Veterinary Oral Health Council for the chew products and diets that have achieved the Veterinary Oral Health Council Seal of Acceptance for tartar and plaque control.
One of the benefits of daily home care is becoming familiar with your pet’s mouth. This makes it easy to detect something that is abnormal. There can be something as obvious as a fractured tooth or something more subtle like a change in odor, tooth discoloration, a malpositioned tooth, or an oral growth. If your pet has a discolored tooth, this could be staining from tartar accumulation, worn enamel, or a fractured tooth. It could be a non-vital tooth, or one that has pulpal hemorrhage (when the tooth has had blunt trauma which caused bleeding inside the tooth). Discolored teeth need to be brought to the attention of your veterinarian to decide how to proceed.
If you are concerned about your pet’s oral health, it is best to have a veterinarian evaluate the condition of his/her mouth. An oral exam can be very informative. Deciding to treat any abnormalities will play an important role in assuring the overall health of your pet.