Why do we brush our teeth? Why do we floss? Why do we see the dentist twice a year? Obviously we want to take care of our teeth which impacts so much of our physical (not to mention social) health. We’ve all seen the mouthwash commercials inveighing against the perils of gingivitis (the first stage of periodontal disease) and bad breath (halitosis), but have you considered that our pets can also be victimized by these same processes? In many cases, the condition is ignored until the pet’s health is seriously impacted.

So, here is a list of good reasons to pay attention to Fluffy and Fido’s dental health.

1. Do we really have to mention bad breath? Surely we’ve encountered dogs and cats whose breath would etch glass. Nuff said
2. Periodontal disease is really a bacterial infection of the groove between the gum and the tooth. Plaque is a mat of bacteria on the surface of the tooth that catches minerals in the saliva to form tartar or calculus on the crown of the tooth. This in turn creates an effective barricade behind which the bacteria work undisturbed like little miners damaging the tissues that hold the tooth in the jaw: the gingival attachment, the periodontal ligament and the the bone around the tooth itself.
3. Periodontal disease can be painful. Have you or anyone you’ve known had a toothache? Need we say more?
4. Untreated periodontal disease can impact other organ systems in the body. Every time a pet with bad periodontal disease chews on food or other items, the gums bleed, allowing the bacteria in the mouth access to the bloodstream and thence to the rest of the body where they can create problems in the heart, lungs and kidneys. This may actually shorten the pet’s life!
5. Although veterinary dental care can be expensive, it is an important measure to maintain optimal health care for your pet. Our involvement can be reduced by diligent and consistent home dental care practices that improves the efficiency of dental health care and saves you lots of money. But if things have gotten away from us, a good dental cleaning (plus or minus extractions) may be the best way to get back to as clean a slate as we can.

If you have any questions about how to take care of your pet’s teeth, or want an estimate for a cleaning, please contact our office. During the month of February, we’re having a dental special for extra savings!

A future blog will describe how to brush your pet’s teeth!

-Dr. Mark Nielsen