Why is dental care important?
The doctors and staff at Rockville Road Animal Hospital strongly believe that proper dental care is crucial to your pet’s overall wellness. Because over 85% of dogs and cats have some form of dental disease we stress the importance of caring for your pet’s mouth and teeth. Periodontal disease includes gingivitis (inflammation of the gum tissue around the teeth), plaque and tartar buildup, and bacterial infection under the gumline. Not only does periodontal disease cause bad breath, if left untreated it becomes a very painful condition that can lead to tooth loss. In severe cases, bacteria in the mouth are carried through the bloodstream to the heart and kidneys causing infections in those organs. Fortunately there are ways to help prevent periodontal disease from progressing to that point.
How can you prevent periodontal disease in your pet?
If your pet is still young and does not yet have tartar buildup, start taking care of the teeth now! Otherwise you should schedule an appointment with one of our doctors for an oral exam and to discuss performing a professional dental cleaning. The dental cleaning is done under anesthesia in order to thoroughly clean the teeth and examine the mouth. Once this has been done, there are some ways to keep those teeth nice and clean:
Brushing the teeth – This is the best way to prevent tartar from building up on your pet’s teeth. Use a soft toothbrush or one made specifically for pets as well as toothpaste that is safe for pets since human toothpaste can make them sick. Ideally, daily brushing is best, but if you are able to do it two or three times a week you can greatly decrease the amount of plaque on the teeth. For more tips on how to brush your pet’s teeth, visit www.veterinarypartner.com and search for “tooth brushing”.
Dental sprays – Although brushing is more effective, chlorhexidine dental sprays are an option if your pet will not tolerate a toothbrush. The chlorhexidine kills bacteria in the mouth that cause tartar formation.
Porphyromonas vaccine – This vaccine for dogs is effective against the bacteria that collect underneath the gumline. Although it will not prevent tartar formation on the parts of the teeth that you can see, it helps prevent bone changes around the roots of the teeth that can lead to tooth loss. Our veterinarians can discuss this option with you and decide if it will benefit your dog.
Prescription Diet t/d – This dry food for dogs and cats is formulated to reduce plaque buildup on tooth surfaces. It uses unique kibble technology that scrapes the surface of the teeth as the pet chews.
Chew toys and treats – Some chew toys like rope toys and rubber toys with ridges can help scrape plaque from the teeth. Some chew treats such as Greenies claim to also help improve dental health. Avoid hard toys that can break or damage the teeth. Any toy or chew treat given to your pet should be appropriate for its size and should only be given under direct supervision.
If you believe your pet has dental disease, call us today at (317) 271-2200 to schedule a physical exam and consultation with one of our veterinarians.