February is National Pet Dental Health Month

February is National Pet Dental Health Month!

Just like people, taking care of your pet’s teeth is an important part of their overall health. Just like we take regular trips to our dentists to make sure our pearly whites are healthy, your pets should also visit their vet at least once a year to get their teeth checked out. This yearly visit is helpful in keeping the teeth healthy and determining if there are any potential health concerns.

If you notice any of the following symptoms or problems, you should have your pet’s teeth checked sooner rather than later. These symptoms can mean they are suffering from a larger problem.
• bad breath
• broken or loose teeth
• extra teeth or retained baby teeth
• teeth that are discolored or covered in tartar
• abnormal chewing, drooling, or dropping food from the mouth
• reduced appetite or refusal to eat
• pain in or around the mouth
• bleeding from the mouth
• swelling in the areas surrounding the mouth

Periodontal disease is the most common disease that occurs in adult dogs and cats. Periodontal disease begins when plaque forms on the dog’s or cat’s teeth. This plaque hardens and then becomes tartar. This tartar firmly attaches to the teeth. The plaque and tartar then spread under the gum line. Bacteria in this plaque then begin to cause damage to the tissues around the tooth. Eventually, this causes the tooth to fall out. This bacteria will continue to damage the tissue in the mouth. This can also have an effect on your pet’s immune system, making it less able to function properly against this bacteria.

In order to avoid your pet getting this disease, there are steps you can take to have a healthy dental routine. According to PetMD.com, the three top tips for pet dental care are:
1. Dental Cleaning
2. Tooth Brushing
3. Dental Treats

1. Dental Cleaning
Professional cleaning can be done by a veterinarian. This is much more thorough than a regular tooth brushing. They make sure to clean any of the plaque build up and will examine to see if any other problems exist.

2. Tooth Brushing
Ideally, you should brush your pet’s teeth daily. However, this is not so easy for everyone to do. You should aim to brush your pet’s teeth at least once a week, multiple times throughout the week if possible. When brushing your pet’s teeth you should not use human toothpaste – it contains fluoride and foaming agents that may be toxic or upset your pet’s stomach. You can use pet toothpaste, but that is not necessary. Brushing your pet’s teeth with a wet toothbrush alone will be effective in cleaning the teeth and removing any plaque that may have built up.

3. Dental Treats
It seems like there are hundreds of dental treats on the market these days that help with oral health in pets. While some treats are specifically marketed as dental treats, almost anything that your pet has to chew is going to help keep their teeth clean. Some popular dental treats are things like Greenies that are given daily to keep the teeth clean. The shape of the Greenies, along with the ingredients they are made with, help remove plaque and tartar. There are other products, that aren’t treats, that help with dental health. For example, there is a water additive that can help keep your pet’s teeth clean.

No matter the route you take or which products you decide to use, all that’s important is that you are being proactive in making your your pet’s teeth are kept clean and they’re putting their best mouth forward!

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