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Why is Dental Health So Important?


Dr. Al Townshend

Do you brush your pet’s teeth daily? Because it turns out – many of us don’t! According to the American Veterinary Dental College, by age 3, many dogs and cats will develop dental disease.

As with humans, dental health for our pets is one of the essential things we Guardians can do to ensure the long-term health of our pets. Dental disease, especially gum disease, opens the door for infection to enter the body. Dental disease is a constant discomfort and stress on the entire body. 

We floss and brush our teeth every day, and yet we still have to go to the dentist and have our teeth cleaned regularly to maintain our dental health. Our pets are no different, and eventually, both dogs and cats will need their teeth cleaned by your veterinarian. The most effective way to delay professional cleaning is to brush your pet’s teeth regularly.

Periodontal Disease

The most common dental disease affecting dogs and cats today is periodontal disease.

First, Periodontal Disease begins by forming plaque in the dog’s mouth, which sticks to the teeth. It is caused by bacteria. Next, minerals are deposited in the plaque, which hardens to form tartar. Finally, the tartar builds under the gum line, causing loose teeth, which can eventually fall out. It opens the door for infection, entering the bloodstream, and creating the potential for life-threatening conditions.

If left untreated, the condition can cause serious and significant damage in the mouth, loss of teeth, discomfort, and the potential for critical, life-threatening disease.

Symptoms of Dental Disease

  • Bad breath
  • Lethargy, inactivity, or depression
  • Poor grooming
  • Salivating
  • Gums may be red, swollen, and even bleed
  • Decreased or loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Dropping food from the mouth while eating
  • Facial swelling
  • Discharge from the nose or eyes
  • Pawing at the face
  • Teeth becoming loose or falling out
  • Loose teeth and open wounds in the mouth can allow an infection to enter the body. Severe and even life-threatening conditions can result.

There is good news – the condition is entirely preventable!

The secret to long-term dental health for pets is prevention. Patience, repetition, and routine are key to your pet getting comfortable with brushing their teeth.

In addition, annual veterinary exams can catch dental problems way before they cause irreparable damage. Professional dental cleaning for dogs and cats is similar to what we humans have done regularly.

Diet, dental treats, sprays, and gels can help to slow the process of dental disease, but ultimately, most pets will need to have their teeth cleaned by the veterinarian.

Do you need help building your pet’s dental routine? Visit your local Pet Planet and get a free personalized consultation!

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Additional Resources

Dental Care

Periodontal Disease: Oral Health

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