Dental care is an often-overlooked aspect of the average pet’s health plan, but it is just as important as your own dental health. Proper and consistent dental care can add three to five years to a pet’s life.
One easy way to determine if your pet needs dental care is his breath. Plaque and tartar will form when food remains in the space between his teeth and causes periodontal disease, an infection of the gum tissue caused by bacteria. This infection and bacteria are often the cause of very bad breath. In fact, periodontal disease is so common that approximately 80% of dogs and 70% of cats will show signs of it by the age of three. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to more serious problems including heart, lung, and kidney disease. However, this disease can be prevented and treated. The keys to your pet’s oral health are professional veterinary dental care and attentive home care.
TCAP recommends regular dental cleaning on an annual basis when a pet reaches three years of age. TCAP uses light anesthesia to keep pets asleep during the procedure that includes techniques and tools similar to your own dentist. During a TCAP dental cleaning, your pet’s teeth will receive a supragingival cleaning (cleaning above the gum line), subgingival cleaning (cleaning under the gum line), polishing, antibacterial or saline flush, and fluoride treatment. These steps clean your pet’s teeth, remove and prevent plaque, and harden your pet’s teeth to help protect them in the future.
The subgingival cleaning or cleaning below the gum line removes subgingival plaque and calculus which are the causes of periodontal disease. Subgingival cleaning is not possible through home remedies so it is recommended that you have your pet’s teeth cleaned even if they receive regular brushing or teeth-cleaning toys/snacks.
Periodontal disease is caused by the natural accumulation of plaque and tartar on your pet’s teeth. Canned food is more likely to stick to your pet’s teeth thus creating a greater chance for plaque to form. Early on, plaque is soft and brushing your pet’s teeth or chewing hard food, toys, or dental care treats can remove it. If the early stages of plaque are left untreated, it can lead to gingivitis. Gingivitis causes gum inflammation which will cause swelling, redness, and pain. Soft plaque can be slowed and even removed through a variety of tools. TCAP recommends dental treats called C.E.T. Chews. These chews are designed to control plaque and eliminate bacteria buildup.