February is Dental care month. It is normal for us to take care of our teeth and gums every day. We know that without proper dental care and regular check ups with our dentist serious problems can occur. Your pet needs dental care too. Doggy breath may be the only symptom that you notice at home but that may just be the tip of the iceberg for early serious dental problems. Infections, cavities, and tumors can hide behind that bad mouth odor. Oral examinations by your pet’s doctor and professional cleanings help to keep your pet’s teeth and gums healthy. After a dental cleaning that morning kiss by your pet will be a much more enjoyable experience.
Home dental care is important as well. Crunchy foods and treats as well as chew toys, will help to clean your pets teeth, but they cannot replace brushing. Brushing your pet’s teeth daily is ideal, but once to twice a week is a realistic goal. To brush your pet’s teeth use an extra soft bristled toothbrush or wrap your finger with a moistened washcloth or gauze pad. Then apply a small amount of pet toothpaste to the brush or cloth. While holding the moth closed, gently lift up the lip to massage the outside of the teeth and gums. Try massaging in a circular motion, but back and forth will do. Be sure to use only toothpaste formulated especially for pets. DO NOT use human toothpaste, which foams and is not meant to be swallowed.
As part of a routine physical, your pet’s doctor will inspect your pet’s teeth. If dental disease is found, they may recommend a complete dental cleaning. During a dental cleaning, a trained veterinary technician will remove tartar with a dental scraper and an ultrasonic cleaner. Tartar removal is followed by polishing, which helps to prevent future tartar build-up. After the cleaning, the pet will be evaluated for gum disease, loose teeth cavities, tooth fractures or any other abnormality, which might require further treatment.