Periodontal disease occurs when your pet shows signs of severe dental tartar accumulation and gum disease. This can cause bad breath, decay, root infection and abscess and tooth loss as well as generalized spread of bacteria, poisoning your pet’s bloodstream and immune system.
Untreated, this problem can cause deadly complications of heart disease, myocarditis, liver disease and kidney problems as well as sepsis (blood infection). Regular dental examinations and cleaning insures your pet’s health, as well as improving breath and making your pet feel years younger! In addition special diets and home therapy are recommended to insure proper maintenance and cleaning.
Brushing your pet’s teeth at least twice weekly, daily if you can manage it. It’s not as difficult as you might imagine. What are the benefits? Brushing removes the daily accumulation of plaque from the teeth. Even though pets do not commonly get cavities, they do suffer from periodontal disease. If untreated the gum disease can lead to pain and loss of teeth.
How to Brush Teeth
Step one is to pick up an appropriate pet toothbrush. Do not buy a child’s toothbrush because it is too hard for pets. The ideal pet toothbrush will have a long handle, an angled head to better fit the mouth and extra soft bristles. Another option is the finger toothbrush that fits over the top of your finger.
Step two is to select appropriate toothpaste. The best pet toothpaste contains enzymes that help control plaque. Avoid toothpaste with baking soda, detergents, or salt sometimes found in human pastes. Fluoride may be incorporated to help control bacteria. Rather than placing the paste on tops of the brush, try to place it between the bristles. This allows the paste to spend the most time next to the teeth.
Step three is to get the brush with paste into your pet’s mouth and all the teeth brushed. Most pets accept brushing if they are approached in a gentle manner. If you start when they are young, it is easy, but even older pets will accept the process. Start slowly; you can use a washcloth or piece of gauze to wipe the teeth, front and back in the same manner, You will eventually be using the toothbrush. Do this twice daily for about two weeks and your dog or cat should be familiar with the approach. Then take the pet toothbrush, soak it in warm water and start brushing daily for several days. When your pet accepts this brushing, add the toothpaste. The toothbrush bristles should be placed at the gum margin where the teeth and gums meet at a 45-degree angle. The movement should be in an oval pattern. Be sure to gently force the bristle ends into the area around the base of the tooth as well as into the space between the teeth. Ten short back-and-forth motions should be competed, then the brush should be moved to a new location. Cover three to four teeth at a time. Attention should be concentrated on the outside of the upper teeth.
In summary, small animal home care should include twice weekly brushing, using an enzymatic pet toothpaste. Taking an active role in the care of your pet’s teeth will help reduce dental disease, bad breath, and potential life threatening heart and kidney disease.