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Dental Health -
Keeping Your Pet's Mouth Healthy Will Keep Your Pet Healthy

While most pet owners think of dental health as simply a cosmetic issue, it is much more than that. Periodontal disease is the most common infectious medical problem affecting dogs and cats today. Most pets three years of age and older have some degree of periodontal disease. This article offer you some tips for good pet dental health.


What Is Periodontal Disease?

Simply put, periodontal disease is any inflammation or infection of the teeth, gums, reporting structures. It is easy to diagnose. If your dog or cat has bad breath, redness of the gums (gingivitis,) or yellow brown tartar on the teeth, and he or she is suffering from periodontal disease. Fortunately, it is also very easy to treat. A regular dental cleaning done under anesthesia at the veterinarian's office is all that is needed to restore your pet's periodontal tissues to their normal proper health. Most pets need to have their teeth professionally cleaned at least once each year. Other pets, especially larger breeds of dogs, may only need the procedure done every few years. Unfortunately, many pets, especially smaller dogs and cats with a condition known as gingivitis-stomatitis, need their teeth cleaned more frequently, usually every three to six months.

While many pet owners do not like the thought of having a pet anesthetized clean the teeth, be advised that it is really the only way to properly and thoroughly clean your pet's teeth. In fact, veterinary dentists consider it malpractice to clean a pet's teeth without using anesthesia as it is impossible to perform a thorough dental scaling above and below the gums in an awake animal. The good news is that with the use of a holistic approach to anesthesia, it is very safe to anesthetize virtually all pets, including our senior pets.

And keep in mind that dental disease is more than simply bad breath and dirty teeth. Dental disease is a true infection, caused by a number of bacteria and their toxins. Left untreated, these toxins either way at the teeth, gums, and supporting tissues. With time, teeth will loosen, become painful, and eventually fall out. Additionally, the bacterial infection in your cat's mouth and jaw can easily spread to surrounding tissues, causing a deeper infection. These bacteria in their toxins can also spread via the bloodstream to other organs including the kidneys, liver, and G.I. tract, lungs, and heart. A major reason why older dogs and cats often need their teeth cleaned several times each year is because valvular heart disease is so common in older pets, and it's critical to prevent those damage heart valves from becoming infected with oral bacteria.

Here are some tips for keeping your pet's teeth and gums in tiptop shape:

    1. Have your pet's teeth professionally cleaned by your veterinarian as often as needed. While some non-veterinarians advertise “Anesthesia-Free Dentistry”, a thorough and complete dental cleaning can only be done in an anesthetized pet.
    2. Brush your pet's teeth as often as possible. Ideally this is every day, but do the best you can. Use the appropriate sized toothbrush for your pet's mouth, and use a dental product such as a toothpaste or gel, recommended by your veterinarian. If your pet won't let you rest its teeth, your veterinarian to show you how to do this.
    3. If you have a puppy or kitten, start brushing the teeth while they are young to train them to accept this important procedure.
    4. There are various dental products on the market that can minimize the build-up of the bacterial plaque on your pet's teeth. My favorites are the dental solution and dental gel made by Oxyfresh. The gel can be applied brush or simply your finger, and a dental solution is simply add it to your pet’s water each day.
    5. Feeding a good natural diet will keep your pet’s entire body including the teeth and gums healthy.
    6. I'm often asked whether it is okay or necessary to feed dogs or cats bones. While I certainly have nothing against this practice and actually encourage it, it's important to match the proper size bone to your pet's teeth. Also keep in mind that no matter how safe you are, bones occasionally splinter and get lodged in the mouth or throat, or result in fractured teeth. Follow your veterinarian to guidelines when it comes to offering your pet fresh meaty bones.
    7. Choose the appropriate chew toys are your pets as well. Once again this is designed to prevent fractured teeth.
    8. Keep up with your pet’s dental care. Examine the pet's teeth and gums at least once a week. If any teeth are missing or fractured, contact your veterinarian for advice. In many instances you will be referred to a specialist in dental care. Veterinary dentists and offer your pet the same procedures your dentist can offer you, including root canals and other advanced procedures designed to save your pet's teeth.

Dental disease is among the easiest aspects of health care for owners to prevent and treat. Using the tips in this article will ensure that your pet doesn’t suffer from dental disease or other health problems that result from poor oral health.



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