Pet Pearly Whites

This resource was provided to Pet Guardian Angels of America by Cary Teller


Photo by Pexels

Similar to humans, dental hygiene is just as important for pets. If their teeth aren’t properly cared for, pets can also get gingivitis along with other nasty infections in their mouths that no proud pet owner wants to have their pets suffer through. Yes, there are things that you can do at home to take care of your pet’s dental hygiene, but it’s important to also take your pet to the veterinarian every once in a while to get a full dental cleaning in order to keep your pet perfectly healthy.

What is a Dental Cleaning and How is It Different from What I Can Do at Home?
Pets can be more similar to humans than you might think, especially when it comes to dental
hygiene. Just like a human, your pet needs to have clean teeth, or else it could ultimately result in the teeth falling out.

A professional dental cleaning is very similar to your ordinary cleaning at a dentist office. The difference is that a pet is very unlikely to willingly hold their mouth open and stay still for that long. Plus, the veterinarian has to go deep under the gums to inspect for diseases and clean out the harmful plaque and tartar. This can be very uncomfortable for the pet, so that is why the anesthesia is necessary.

Of course, there are non-anesthetic dental cleanings that you can get from the pet store and some veterinary clinics, but there are only so many ways to restrain a pet during a cleaning without anesthesia, so they often are not able to be as thorough as your pet needs

A typical professional dental cleaning includes a general mouth inspection and basic teeth
cleaning followed by removing the plaque and tartar from under the gums, assessing for dental
disease, applying a dental sealer, doing X-rays of below the gumline to check for any hidden
issues, and removing or repairing fractured or infected teeth.

At home, you can do a very basic cleaning to make sure your pet’s breath doesn’t smell too bad and clean up their teeth a bit, but that’s not even touching the buildup of plaque and tartar that gets under their gums.

Why Are Dental Cleanings So Important?

A regular dental cleaning is necessary to not only keep your pet’s smile looking pearly white but it also prevents some pretty nasty diseases like Periodontal Disease. As bacteria, plaque, and tartar start to build up around your pet’s teeth and start to harden, the buildup can destroy the tissues around the teeth.

Nearly 85% of all pets have Periodontal Disease by age 3 just because their owners might not be fully aware of the importance of keeping their pets’ teeth clean. This disease can cause your pet to have bad breath, pain while chewing, and tooth loss. If Periodontal Disease is left untreated, the harmful bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause heart, liver, and kidney problems.

Periodontal Disease overall is irreversible, but its effects can be slowed down or completely prevented with regular dental cleanings.

How Often Does My Pet Need Its Teeth Cleaned?

When you take your pet in for its first checkup, your veterinarian should be able to tell you how often your pet will need a dental cleaning. Some breeds, like pugs and bulldogs will need their teeth cleaned more often just because of how their mouths are formed. It all depends on the breed and their dietary needs.

Overall, dental cleanings are most often needed only once a year with non-anesthetic cleanings about every six months. This, paired with regular dental care at home, will help ensure that your pet will keep that pearly-white smile.

Also during that first checkup, the veterinarian will be able to show you how to do some basic dental care at home and which parts of the mouth you should be checking on to see if your pet needs a dental cleaning more often or not.

One good way to tell if it’s time to for a dental cleaning is by doing a basic inspection of your pet’s mouth. Look for brownish-gold buildup, redness, or bleeding along the gumline and watch out for bad breath, excessive drooling, pawing at the mouth, difficulty chewing, or loose or missing teeth. Any of these or a combination of these things are good signs that your pet needs to go in for a dental cleaning.

How to Stay on Top of Dental Care at Home

There may be some complaints that going to the veterinarian clinic for dental cleanings might be a bit pricey, but you could possibly increase the interval between dental cleanings by doing regular dental care at home.

One of the major things you can do for your pet’s dental care on your own is brushing your pet’s
teeth
. It might sound silly, but it really works to clean up some of the plaque on the teeth. You should plan to brush your pet’s teeth at least every other day with a child’s tooth brush.

Be sure to only use pet toothpaste that will come in tasty flavors for your pet like chicken, seafood, and malt instead of human toothpaste because the human toothpaste will have
ingredients that could be potentially harmful and should not be swallowed by your pet.

Another thing you can do to help with your pet’s dental hygiene is use different dental care aids like rinses, dental treats, and oral sprays. Dental care aids with natural ingredients are especially helpful with keeping your pet’s breath smelling fresh.

Certain dental diets can also be applied to your pet’s daily diet.Doctor Marty Goldstein is an integrative veterinarian who has lots of helpful tips and dietary suggestions on how to keep your pet healthy.

Some of the basic things you can include in a dental diet for your pet are foods and snacks that are especially formulated with ingredients to keep your pet’s teeth cleaned. You can also give them bones to chew on, or chicken necks and chicken wings for cats and smaller dogs, that will help remove the plaque and tartar from their teeth, Just be sure to take the bones away before they become small enough for your pet to choke on.

So Now You Know

Oral problems and diseases, like Periodontal Disease, can be scary to think about for your pet, but now you know what you can do to prevent it. Be sure to keep an eye out for anything
suspicious looking or smelling in your pet’s mouth and be willing to take your pet in for a regular dental cleaning. If you aren’t sure about something, don’t be afraid to talk to your veterinarian. Keep all of this information in mind, and next time, both you and your pet will be showing off those pearly-white smiles in the pictures.

“Cary Teller is an Oregon native who loves exploring the outdoors with his trusty sidekick Milo, a 2-year old gorgeous and cuddly mastiff.”