Pet owners rarely give their pet’s mouth a second thought—unless their stinky breath knocks them back when their furry pal comes in for a kiss. But, good oral health is essential for your pet’s overall well-being, as it affects not only her mouth, but her heart and other organs, as well. The best dental care for your pet takes a two-pronged approach—professional veterinary care and at-home care.
Professional dental care for your pet
Occasionally, you will need to call in professional backup for your pet’s dental care. Most pets have some form of dental disease, so your furry friend most likely will require veterinary dental work at some point. A professional dental cleaning will include:
- Thorough oral examination — We begin with a thorough oral exam to check for gingivitis, tartar accumulation, loose or broken teeth, infection pockets, or oral masses. Some awake pets may not cooperate for a full exam of every tooth, but we can often get a good enough view to determine the extent of necessary dental work.
- Digital dental X-rays — During your pet’s dental procedure, we take digital dental X-rays of every tooth to ensure we detect any hidden problems. At this point, your pet is safely anesthetized to prevent movement and allow us a better look. Dental X-rays will show tooth fractures below the gumline, bone loss, abscesses, retained teeth, root fragments, or other bony issues that we would otherwise miss. As much as 60% of your pet’s teeth are hidden beneath the gumline, so dental X-rays are a vital part of a comprehensive dental health-care plan.
- Gingival probing — After X-rays, we move on to probing around each tooth to find pockets in the gum tissue that are a prime breeding ground for bacteria. While X-rays are excellent at detecting bony problems, gingival probing helps us find soft-tissue damage in the gums.
- Dental charting — Your pet will likely have more than one dental procedure in her lifetime, which is why accurate dental charting is important. During our evaluation of your pet’s mouth, we mark missing, loose, or broken teeth, identifying ones that need extraction. We measure periodontal pockets, and label those that may cause a problem. We also mark any abnormalities in your furry friend’s mouth to ensure we can monitor her health as she ages.
- Dental scaling and polishing — Once we’ve identified any problems and created a treatment plan, we move on to the rewarding part—removing the chunky tartar layers, and polishing your pet’s teeth to a beautiful shine. As we scale off plaque and tartar, ensuring we remove any trace of bacteria above and below the gumline, our dental instruments will make tiny abrasions in the enamel of your pet’s teeth. To smooth these miniature imperfections, we polish each tooth to make it more difficult for plaque to latch onto the enamel.
- Fluoride treatment — To top off your pet’s procedure, we apply a fluoride treatment to her teeth to help strengthen the enamel.
After we clean and polish your pet’s teeth, she’s left with a clean slate for you to begin an at-home dental-care routine.
At-home dental care for your pet
Between professional dental cleanings, you are responsible for keeping your pet’s pearly whites sparkling. By staying on top of an at-home oral health-care regimen, you lessen your pet’s risk of painful dental disease, necessary extractions, and systemic infection by reducing the bacterial load lurking in plaque and tartar.
- Toothbrushing — Daily toothbrushing at home is the single best way you can help keep your pet’s teeth healthy and tartar-free. But, we understand that daily toothbrushing sessions can be difficult to manage, so try for at least three times per week. When brushing your pet’s teeth, use a pet-friendly toothpaste that’s safe if swallowed, and concentrate on the surfaces of the teeth closest to the lips. While many pets are reluctant to open their mouths wide enough for a toothbrush to scrub the inner surfaces of their teeth, their tongue usually does a decent job of removing plaque buildup there.
- Approved dental products — Round out your at-home dental-care regimen with a variety of Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC)-approved products. The VOHC stamps its seal of approval on chews, treats, diets, dental wipes, oral rinses, and water and food additives that have been proven to slow the accumulation of plaque and tartar.
- Monitor for dental disease — By regularly looking in your pet’s mouth, you will be able to notice early dental disease signs, and periodontal problems that require veterinary care. If you see gingivitis, broken or loose teeth, lesions, or lumps, or smell awful breath, schedule an appointment with our team.
Does your pet’s breath knock you over? Schedule an appointment with us to return your furry friend’s mouth to kissably fresh.