Here at Natures Preserve we are celebrating Pet Dental Health Month with discounts off products and cleanings. However every month is a good month to keep up with or start a dental health program with your pet! Dental health is one of the most overlooked aspects of your pet’s health, even though we see their teeth every day! Keeping your pets teeth and mouth healthy not only prevents bad breath, lost teeth and chewing problems, it also is imperative for your pets whole body health.

The dirty on dental disease:

Most pets will develop dental disease in their lifetime without preventative hygiene and regular cleanings. Dental disease is caused by bacteria in the mouth. They initially cause buildup of plaque, which progresses to tartar when mineral content is added. This progresses further to inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) and finally to bone loss and tooth resportion. These final two types are called periodontal disease. The inflammation that causes periodontal disease occurs underneath the gum line, therefore the amount of plaque buildup does not necessarily correspond to the severity of the peridontal disease. Peridontal disease comes in 5 stages:

Stage 0: Clean teeth with small amounts of tartar and no gum inflammation. No bone loss. Regular preventive care is needed with regular cleanings.

Stage 1: Some build up of tartar with slight reddening and swelling of the gums (gingivitis) and no bone loss. Animals may be reactive to tooth brushing but regular preventive care should be continued.

Stage 2: Swelling of the gums and the crown of the tooth may be worn down. Often large amounts of plaque buildup 0-25% bone loss. This stage requires immediate dental cleaning.

Stage 3: Up to 50% of bone loss around the tooth with large pockets along the tooth. This requires either advanced treatment by a specialist or an extraction.

Stage 4: Over 50% of bone around the tooth is lost, and the tooth needs to be extracted.

The importance of dental cleanings:

The good thing is that regular cleanings and preventive measures that remove plaque and tartar, including under the gum line, can prevent it from progressing to gingivitis and periodontal disease. Regular dental cleanings are important part of your dog’s health and should be performed regularly. Many dogs need them every few years. During a dental cleaning your animal is placed under anesthesia, the teeth
are scaled and polished, including underneath the gum line, and the teeth are checked for pockets or problems that might require the tooth to be extracted.

Once inflammation occurs in the tissues around the tooth and bacteria accumulate, these bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause inflammation in your pets internal organs, causing premature aging, organ dysfunction, and severe disease. Regular dental cleanings prevent this from occurring!

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure:

At home prevention and regular cleanings can help prevent the health issues associated with periodontal disease. Brushing: Just like you brushing your pet’s teeth is the best way to keep them clean and healthy. Pet toothpaste is formulated so most pets love the taste and look forward to it as a treat! The important thing is to start slowly and carefully so that your pet gets used to it. You don’t have to brush the whole mouth the first time! Always remember to only use toothpaste made for pets, never human toothpaste.

Chews: Specially formulated chews can help keep your pets teeth clean. These are made with teeth cleaning additives and are made so that the mechanical action of chewing scrapes away plaque and tartar. There are many different options such as Orovet, CET chews, etc.
Choose one that takes your pet time to chew, swallowing it in two bites doesn’t do much for cleaning the teeth and remember to give one daily. Feeding kibble can also help keep teeth cleaner than wet food, by the lack of food material left in the mouth and the mechanical action of the kibble breaking up.

Cleanings: While it may not seem obvious, regular dental cleanings can save you money and your pets teeth! If your pet has regular cleanings when dental disease is mild it is quicker with less possibility of complications and can avoid costly extractions. Cleanings should always been done under anesthesia at a veterinary office. Many places offer anesthesia free cleanings, but these should be avoided. They only clean superficially and do not allow cleaning below the gum line, the main source of periodontal disease that necessitates extractions!

Water Additives: While they are the least effective method, water additives can help decrease the bacteria associated with periodontal disease and help your pets teeth and breath if other options aren’t suitable or in addition to other options.