We brush our teeth twice a day, and the result of this effort (however minimal it may seem) is nothing short of astounding. We also benefit from regular professional cleanings, exams, and x-rays because the truth is, daily at-home care positively affects oral health and long-term wellness.
Applying the same principles to your pet might seem challenging at first, but the benefits to their health are incredible. With this in mind, let’s take a deeper look at why pet dental health is so important.
A Clean Bill of Health
One of the primary reasons we advocate for annual wellness exams is because they give us the opportunity to see what’s going on inside your pet’s mouth. Although we won’t be able to see everything (a vast majority of issues lie beneath the gum line), we can give you some pointers on brushing at home or recommend various helpful products like rinses, chew toys, and food.
If there are obvious signs of trouble in the mouth, we’ll discuss the need for a full dental exam, cleaning, and digital x-rays while your pet is anesthetized.
The Dangers of Periodontal Disease
Without regular brushing or routine scaling, plaque and tartar will build up as a result of oral bacteria and food particles. Left unchecked inside the mouth, periodontal disease develops in four distinct stages:
- Stage 1 – Characterized by mild plaque and tartar along the gum line and inflammation, this stage warrants an at-home care routine. No bone loss will be evident on x-rays.
- Stage 2 – Worn or yellow teeth and swollen gums are the signs that precede x-rays in this stage that show almost a quarter bone loss. At this point, professional treatment and cleaning is imperative to prevent further damage.
- Stage 3 – When there’s more than 25% bone loss of a tooth, extraction or other advanced treatment (like a root canal) is just as important as professional cleaning.
- Stage 4 – An animal may need several tooth extractions, plus further treatment. When 50% bone loss occurs, the risk of systemic infection is very high. Pain may be intolerable.
The Importance of Pet Dental Health
Your pet uses their mouth to chew, eat, talk, and groom themselves, but they also use their teeth and jaws to pick things up. Teeth are also important when it comes to self-defense. When teeth start to break or become infected, quality of life diminishes. Abscesses, lacerations, or jagged, broken teeth are strong indicators of larger problems in the mouth. Other symptoms include:
- Bad breath
- Lack of interest in eating
- Dropping food
- Pawing at the mouth
Left alone, oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause major damage to the liver, heart, and kidneys, requiring critical care.
Make it a Priority
Brushing your pet’s teeth can easily be incorporated into your everyday routine, but it may take some time to get into the habit. However, knowing that regular pet dental care can add up to two years to your pet’s life is worth it.