Like people, animals can also suffer from poor dental health caused by bacteria that form plaque on the teeth. This then attacks the gums and causes gum disease.
Gum disease is a prevalent problem in dogs and cats, with approximately 90% of pets over three years old suffering from some degree of gum disease. Plaque forms quickly, especially around food times. It can result in many health problems, such as tooth loss and systemic infections if left untreated.
What Are Plaques on Your Pet’s Teeth?
Plaque is a soft, sticky substance formed by bacteria in your pet’s mouth after eating and drinking. Plaque forms quickly and tends to develop around the teeth and gums at food times. After being there for a while, it thickens with saliva or mucus present in the mouth, forming tartar (also known as calculus), which is more difficult to remove than plaque.
In addition to their oral health, you should take care of your pet’s health as a whole. Click here to learn more about a comprehensive care plan for your pets.
How Can You Tell If Your Pet’s Teeth Are Healthy?
Pets with regular veterinary care tend to be healthier than those who do not visit their vets frequently. The vet will examine your pet’s teeth during routine checkups. If you are taking them regularly to the veterinarian, there should be no cause for concern as long as they seem to stay healthy and happy.
Your pet’s mouth is an important indicator of overall health. Their teeth and gums’ health can reflect serious diseases such as kidney or liver disease, diabetes, or other chronic disorders because plaque can create a compromised immune system.
Some common symptoms of poor pet dental health include:
- Bad breath
- Red or swollen gums
- Loose teeth
- Persistent chewing on hard materials (table legs, flooring, garden equipment, etc.)
- Excessive drooling and loss of appetite
- Difficulty eating certain foods
- Receding gums caused by the loss of tooth support in older animals
- Another symptom that could indicate a dental problem is using their paws to hold food while chewing it instead of using their teeth to grip the food with their jaws.
Tips on How to Clean Your Pet’s Teeth
1. Brush Their Teeth Regularly
Providing your pets with a daily dental cleaning can help them fight plaque and tartar, which is highly beneficial to their oral health. Many different pet toothbrush options are available to you, from finger brushes to electric toothbrushes.
- The easiest way to brush a pet’s teeth is by using a pet toothpaste and a child’s soft toothbrush or gauze pad. These items are probably the most familiar objects in your house to brush your pet’s teeth.
- You should apply an ample amount of pet-friendly toothpaste on the bristles of the brush/pad and gently rub it along their upper front teeth, paying close attention to the insides of the molars where tartar tends to gather. After the front teeth, move around to their backs and do the same thing.
2. Use Antibacterial Mouthwash
Using an antibacterial mouthwash after brushing your pet’s teeth can help kill bacteria not removed by brushing alone. Swish it in your pet’s mouth for at least one minute before spitting it out so that they get a full cleaning. Mouthwashes, however, are not a substitute for brushing your pet’s teeth regularly.
3. Avoid Rawhide Treats
Rawhide is high in sugar and starch. These ingredients can lead to plaque buildup in the mouth, causing health problems if left untreated. Vets recommend using rawhide alternatives like greenies, bully sticks, and compressed rawhide chews.
Commercially manufactured pet treats are often too hard for dogs to chew easily. You may give your dog a variety of healthy treats in moderation, such as carrots and green beans.
4. Foods Encourage Tooth Decay
Candy, chips or crackers, raisins, popcorn kernels, ice cream cones, or any other sugary item tend to stick to your pet’s teeth. Not only will these foods stick around for days at a time (keeping plaque around longer), but they can also be dangerous if ingested.
Unknown to many pet owners, fruit pits are harmful. They can lodge in your pet’s throat or get stuck in their intestines. Be careful with dogs that tend to swallow things whole.
5. Chew Toys Aren’t Enough
Many commercially manufactured toys for pets are too hard for many animals to bite, hurting their teeth or gums. You can purchase chew toys that are softer to reduce the risk of harm, but opting for a toy softer than your pet’s teeth is best.
You may hide some of their food throughout the house (in multiple locations) for them to search to satisfy their need to chew. But ensure to keep track of where you hide it. If your pet gets into something that isn’t safe, they could end up becoming ill or worse.
6. Get Regular Exams and Dental Cleanings
Regular veterinary exams are essential for your pet’s overall well-being. Get your pet an exam and clean yearly to catch any problems or potential issues early on before they become worse.
Pets age much faster than humans. If you know that your dog is older than seven, take them to the vet every six months to ensure their teeth are clean and healthy. You should talk about oral hygiene with your veterinarian during each visit.
- Most vets recommend scaling or deep cleaning. It involves eliminating plaque and tartar from teeth to ensure that pets have healthy mouths. Scaling is best done with local anesthesia to ensure your pet’s safety.
- Using an ultrasonic scaler, they may perform tooth polishing after scaling to remove any lingering stains or irregularities on tooth surfaces. Cleanings help prevent future damage by removing buildup in hard-to-reach places, so it doesn’t have time to accumulate bacteria.
That’s why you must choose a reputable and experienced vet clinic, such as Five Oaks AH for your pet’s dental needs. Remember, your vet is your partner in taking care of your pet’s health. Always talk to them about your concerns or questions since they know your pet’s history, lifestyle, and background.