Posted on 12-11-2017
Proper dental care is as important in our pets as it is in humans. Dental disease can not only cause pain, and oral disease, but also adversely affect the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys. Despite its importance in pet health, dental care is one of the most overlooked areas in pet health. Studies performed by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) reveal 2/3 of pets do not receive the oral care recommended by their veterinarians. What follows is a list of oral health guidelines in order of importance.
- Annual Dental Cleaning and Oral Exam Under General Anesthesia. A basic oral exam should be performed annually along with vaccinations and a physical exam. A complete oral exam in a pet can only be performed under general anesthesia. Dogs usually have 42 teeth and cats 28 teeth, and each tooth needs to be examined and probed. The root of a tooth can make up 65% of the entire tooth and rests under the gum-line where we can’t see. Dental radiographs can be performed along with probing to determine root health. Identifying diseased teeth or roots is important to provide appropriate treatment. Oral examination of the throat, tonsil area, and under the tongue can reveal masses that left untreated could be life-threatening. As such AAHA and dental societies agree all cats and small dogs should start at 1 year of age and larger sized dogs at 2 years of age.
- Daily Brushing. Just like people, pets should have the teeth brushed regularly. Plaque can build up within 48 hours, and once present cannot be simply brushed away. As such, brushing should be done on a daily basis. Particularly, the side of the tooth facing the gums should be focused on most as this area gets more plaque. Also, the teeth in the back of the mouth are more important for eating than the ones in the front. Please schedule an appointment for a demonstration of the technique.
- Diets. There are specific diets such as Hills Prescription t/d among others that have been scientifically proven to reduce tartar, and improve oral health. Please discuss with your veterinarian these prescription based diets to see if they are a good choice for your pet.
- Dental Treats. There are many treats available to help reduce tartar available. These include greenies, CET chews, and Ora Clens. These chews act via mechanical and enzymatic channels to reduce tartar and plaque.
- Wipes, Rinses and Water Additives. There are many products that fit into this group. They are often the most convenient to use. We recommend the Ora Clens family of products. The wipes and rinse contain chlorhexidine, which is an antiseptic used to reduce the bacteria that cause dental disease. Water additives are generally not recommended as efficacy is questionable, and overdosing can be problematic.
It is important to remember that diets, chews and wipes and rinses should NOT replace daily brushing and annual cleanings. Those products should augment brushing and cleanings, similar to how flossing, mouthwashes, and sugarless gums aid human oral health. Please schedule your oral exam today and we can further discuss oral health and demonstrate brushing and how to use these different products.
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