Do I need to Clean my Pet’s Teeth?

Healthy Mouth = Happy Pets!

Just like humans, our pet’s teeth and mouth needs care too! February is Pet Dental Health Month, a Veterinary Industry initiative with the goal to help raise awareness about why people need to keep pets teeth and mouth clean. Many people don’t realize that poor dental health can cause more than just bad breath – it can also lead to a variety of health issues that can actually shorten your pet’s life!

Did you know that dental disease is the number one cause of heart, kidney, and liver disease in older pets? 

Dental disease is caused by bacteria found in plaque, and when plaque hardens, it becomes tartar, which is that yucky hard brown stuff that you find on your pet’s teeth that you can’t brush or wipe off. Bacteria can enter into the bloodstream and form plaques on the valves of the heart, in the filtering segments of the kidney and the vessels of the liver, and it can cause problems with the skin, lungs, and brain as well. These bacterial colonies, which are comprised of over 700 different types of bacteria, then cause scar tissue to form in those organs when the body tries to eliminate it, which then leads to malfunction of the organ itself.

By the age of three, up to 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have already started showing signs of gum disease and plaque buildup 

The plaque that forms on teeth also gets below the gum line and starts to wear away at the structural portion of the teeth, which loosens the teeth and causes significant pain and discomfort for your pets. This is why getting your pet’s teeth cleaned professionally by a Veterinarian under general anesthetic is extremely important, as anesthetic-free cosmetic brushing services cannot remove plaque living below the gum line.

Plaque filled mouths are also prone to teeth root abscesses (which can be life-threatening in some circumstances), oro-nasal fistulas (holes that extend from the mouth into the nose), and significant bone loss in the jaw, which makes the jaw weaker and more prone to fracturing.

Plus, when your pet has dental disease, they are probably in a lot of pain which causes a variety of behavioural changes due to chronic discomfort such as insomnia, lethargy, and loss of appetite to name a few.

What Are The Most Common Signs of Dental Disease In Your Pet?

  • Difficulty chewing
  • Weight loss
  • Bad breath
  • Excessive salivation
  • Face rubbing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Facial swelling
  • Blood visible on toys after chewing

If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet, you should schedule an oral health assessment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. Your vet can do a full exam inside your pet’s mouth and let you know if there are any signs of dental disease, teeth that are diseased, and if your pet needs a dental cleaning or extractions.

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