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Take the Bite Out of Periodontal Disease – Part One: Home Care

Dental care is perhaps the most overlooked and undertreated area in veterinary medicine.  Most people are aware of the need for regular dental care for themselves; however, many do not realize their pets can be similarly affected by periodontal disease.  In fact, by the age of 3 years, 80% of pets are affected by dental disease.

 

To help control and prevent oral issues from developing, we encourage you to brush your pet’s teeth and check their mouth on a regular basis.  Look for redness, swelling of the gums, and/or yellowish-brown tartar extending down the length of the tooth.

dog-teeth-cleaning

 

It is a good idea to become comfortable opening your pet’s mouth and looking inside, especially at the back teeth, on the inside of the teeth, and the tongue.  Start by gently handling your pet’s muzzle, gradually getting them used to you opening their mouth and examining inside.  Performing this task during play time and rewarding good behaviour will make this experience more enjoyable for your pet.  Once your pet has become comfortable having its muzzle handled, introduce a pet-safe toothbrush and toothpaste, which can be acquired through your veterinarian or local pet store.  By brushing your pet’s teeth on a regular basis, plaque is removed before it becomes firmly attached to the tooth surface and before it mineralizes into tartar.

 

Your pet’s diet can also play a role in the development of periodontal disease.  Feeding crunchy kibble is recommended over soft food because soft food is more likely to stick to the teeth and cause decay.  Special dental formula diets such as “Dental” from Royal Canin or “t/d” from Hill’s can also help, as they are formulated with enzymes to fight tartar build-up, and their size and shape lend to the brushing regime by reducing the accumulation of plaque and tartar.  When selecting treats, opt for one of the many synthetic bones or chew toys that are specially designed to clean and strengthen your pet’s gums and teeth. Do not give natural bones, antlers, dried cow hooves, hard nylon toys or ice cubes as these items are hard enough to fracture teeth.

 

Even with a rigorous oral regime at home, it is important that your pet’s teeth be checked by a veterinary doctor every six to twelve months.  There is no substitute for professional veterinary dental care – oral examinations and routine dental cleanings are critical in maintaining a healthy mouth, and ultimately a healthy pet!

 

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