February is Pet Dental Awareness Month, and for good reason. Studies show that by the time dogs are 3 years old, 4 out of 5 have some form of periodontal disease. And, cats over the age of 5 have a 50-90% chance of having dental disease. With so many pets affected, it’s no wonder that pet dental wellness is one of our top priorities at Town and Country Animal Hospital.
We’d like to share with you how a pet dental wellness program can work to keep your pet healthier and happier.
Pet Dental Wellness 101
What is pet dental wellness? Simply, it’s the cornerstone of dental disease prevention.
Dental disease is common and preventable. It starts with plaque buildup on the teeth and at the gum line. Bacteria form and cause plaque to harden into tartar, but the real problems happen when the bacteria go below the gum line, causing infection and disease of all the tooth structures, including the root. Infection, and if not treated, can affect the heart, kidneys, and liver.
The basics of pet dental care include an oral exam during your pet’s annual wellness visit. Your veterinarian will look into your pet’s mouth and check for any glaring problems that can be seen with the naked eye. He or she will grade the teeth to record what stage of disease is seen, if any.
At-home dental wellness care includes brushing your pet’s teeth daily, and sometimes dental chews, dental diets, and/or water additives to protect the teeth from plaque and tartar buildup.
Did you catch that we said daily brushing? Did you cringe when we said that? Brushing your pet’s teeth may seem like overkill or even impossible, but it’s one of the most effective things you can do to prevent pet dental problems, so it’s a crucial part of wellness care.
Because brushing is so effective at preventing disease, it can even save you money down the line in expensive dental procedures. Ask us to teach you how to brush your pet’s teeth at their next wellness exam. It’s easier than you think. Really!
The Next Step
It’s possible that your pet may already have some stage of dental disease by the time you see us. That’s not a commentary on how well you care for your pet. Many breeds are predisposed to dental problems, and because our pets age so much faster than we do, it can be easy to put things off and have them escalate more quickly than we anticipated.
For pet dental wellness, an annual professional dental cleaning is in order. During the procedure, all the structures of your pet’s mouth will be evaluated, teeth and gums will be examined and cleaned both above and below the gum line, and x-rays taken of any problem areas. If extractions are needed, those will be performed with your permission. Lastly, your pet’s teeth will be polished to prevent further plaque buildup.
Anesthesia is the single biggest reason that pet owners put off dental care. It’s true there is a risk with any anesthesia, but with advancements in veterinary medicine, this is safer than ever. High quality monitoring equipment, a highly trained veterinary technician team, and safer anesthetic agents all lower the risk of problems. The benefits of a clean, pain-free, healthy mouth far outweigh the risks.
The Big Picture
Pet dental wellness is one of the easiest and most effective ways to give your pet true wellness and health. By keeping on a preventive care schedule of professional cleanings and at-home care, dental health and wellness will be a breeze! Give us a call or schedule an appointment to see our veterinarians if you have any questions about pet dental wellness.