Maintaining your pets' dental health
As humans, we brush our teeth twice a day and (ideally) visit the dentist every 6-12 months for a check-up and to have our teeth professionally cleaned.
It is just as important to find a dental health regime that works for our pets. Many dogs and cats need to have their teeth professionally cleaned regularly to prevent the build-up of tartar and the development of irreversible and painful periodontal disease.
Options for routine dental homecare
When purchasing dental health products, first ensure that they are on the Veterinary Oral Health Committee (vohc.org) list of ‘accepted products’. This is an independent body that tracks which products have scientific data backing their label claims.
A combination of the following measures can be used:
□ Brushing your pet’s teeth every day or as often as possible- this is the gold standard
□ Feeding a specially formulated dental diet
□ Oravet chews daily
□ Greenie chews daily
□ Healthy mouth added to water daily (5ml/L of water)
□ Maxiguard gel applied to molars daily to every other day or used on a swab
Regardless of the regime used, you should seek veterinary help if you notice any of the following signs of dental disease in your pet:
- Bad breath
- Yellow or brown discolouration of the teeth
- Redness of the gums
- Aversion to hard foods
- Broken teeth
- Excessive salivation
- Discomfort when handling or opening the mouth
Please note: oral pain is not always easily recognisable in our pets. Just because they continue to eat does not mean that their mouth is not sore! They can’t request a milkshake- they have to eat what is offered or else go hungry!
Even with gold standard dental homecare, all dogs and cats will need a professional dental clean every 1-3 years. Remember, just because we brush and floss our own teeth twice a day doesn’t mean we don’t need to see the dentist!
In order to fully examine and clean your pet’s teeth, we must give them a light general anaesthetic. This keeps them still, reduces stress and enables us to closely examine and radiograph each tooth.
Has the dentist ever taken X-rays of your teeth? Did you know that there is also dental radiology for pets?
We know that 80-85% of dogs and cats over three years of age have dental disease that needs treatment. We also know that two-thirds of the tooth is actually below the gum, not visible to the naked eye.
Periodontal Disease is the most common dental condition we see in our clinic, and the real action is happening below the gumline. In cats, we also frequently see a condition called Tooth Resorption and in these cases we really must know the state of the tooth roots to treat appropriately.
Dental X-rays ensure peace of mind that sources of oral pain will be detected and the best treatment is performed for each individual tooth.