The Importance of Pet Teeth Cleaning

October 18, 2016 at 9:08 AM by Nikki Wardle

Canine dental health

On any given day, you've got a lot on your plate--but one of the things you have to find time for, no matter what is brushing your teeth. You know well enough that skipping out on this little task now can cause big problems later. The truth is, the same goes for your pet's teeth. Pet teeth cleaning is an aspect of "pet parenting" that too often goes overlooked, and the result can be expensive, painful, and frustrating dental problems. Luckily, our pet care experts are here to give you the ins and outs of this crucial step in loving your animals back.

Veterinary Dentistry

It's not hard to tell that brushing a pet's teeth is harder than brushing your own. This might explain why so many people tend to unintentionally overlook pet dental care--but it's important to realize just how crucial dental health is for your animals. The first step is to understand "veterinary dentistry."

Animal dentists do all the same things as your dentist does--they just have to put up with a bit more fur! Veterinary dentistry involves regular cleanings, routine procedures like extraction and filing, and protects and promotes overall dental health for your pet. Oral exams are a crucial part of the process, and often they involve radiographs, or X-rays, which provide a lot of important info that might have been missed otherwise. In fact, many dental problems and diseases begin below the gumline--so having X-rays in the arsenal is key for early detection.

Now that you have an overview of veterinary dentistry, it's helpful to know what types of problems to look out for. The first and most common question usually asked is, "Do pets get cavities?" Although the answer is yes, cavities occur much less often in animals. More common problems include broken teeth, damaged gums, or a fractured jaw, and, though less likely, your pet can also suffer from tumors in the mouth, palate defects, and even misalignment of the teeth. (Just imagine a dog in braces!) The single biggest threat to your pet's dental health is periodontal disease, which begins when plaque hardens into tartar and can become so severe that the liver, kidneys, and heart are affected.

Clearly, pet teeth cleaning is a big deal--but don't worry. There are specific steps you can take to keep your furry friend's smile healthy and clean.

Your Role in Dental Health

Pet health experts recommend that owners take an active role in dental health to avoid costly problems in the future. Although it might seem, at first, that your busy schedule doesn't allow for so much as buying a pet toothbrush, it's easier than you might think to get dental care into your routine.

Step 1. Begin by establishing a regular schedule for pet teeth cleaning. It might take some time at first, but as your pet (and your hands) get used to it, everything will go more smoothly. It is extremely important to establish and stick to a routine, as many dental problems--like periodontal disease--can be stopped or lessened with regular teeth cleaning.

Step 2. The next step is to keep a close eye on your pet's dental health, which, naturally, can be intricately connected to overall health. For example, a toothache might make Fido hesitant to eat, which, in turn, will cause weight loss and irritability. Some big signs to look out for are bad breath, change in appetite, bleeding or swelling in the mouth, problems chewing and swallowing, and any abnormality of the teeth (like discoloration, broken edges, or looseness).

Step 3. The final step in your active role in pet dental health care is to visit the animal dentist regularly. It is recommended that pets get a check-up and cleaning once a year, but if you notice any signs of discomfort or abnormality, it's important to get your animals to the dentist as soon as possible. Two huge keys in overall dental health are catching problems early and keeping up with regular pet teeth cleanings.

Remember, brushing your teeth is important enough to take up a few minutes in your busy schedule--pet teeth cleaning is no different. If you want more information on veterinary dentistry or what you can do to avoid dental disaster, contact us today!

Topics: Pet Teeth Cleaning

Nikki Wardle

Written by Nikki Wardle

Nikki has been writing for Intermountain Pet Hospital since 2014.