By age 3, more than 60% of all dogs and cats have some form of gum disease. All Valley Pet Hospital wants to prevent your pet from becoming part of this statistic, which is why we offer dentistry services. We also advise you to bring your pet in at least once a year for a comprehensive wellness exam that includes a check of the mouth. If we detect tartar build up, swollen gums, or other problems, we may recommend a diagnostic exam and thorough dental cleaning, as these may be signs of periodontal disease.
Many pet owners don’t understand how the health of the mouth is an indicator of the health of the entire body. Gum disease can lead to kidney, liver, and heart disease, if left untreated. It can also make your pet very uncomfortable and leave them in pain. That’s why it’s important to maintain your pet’s oral health from home and arrange for professional cleanings as needed. This can help improve your pet’s oral and overall health, lengthening their lifespan.
Below is the step-by-step process of what a standard dental examination/cleaning consists of at our hospital:
Oral exam: Prior to anesthesia, we examine the mouth and face for swelling, pain, and other conditions. This helps us determine how to treat your pet.
Anesthesia: If your pet’s blood work indicates that they are healthy enough for dental care, we begin administering anesthesia.
Anesthetized oral exam: During this exam, we evaluate the teeth for fractures, mobility, and gum disease.
Ultrasonic scaling: This step involves removing plaque and tartar from the teeth using ultrasonic scaling equipment.
Polishing: Polishing the teeth smoothes out any defects and minor surface imperfections. It can also help remove any residual plaque deposits.
Extractions: If we determine that one or more of your pet’s teeth need to be removed, we use a special tool for surgical extractions.
Brushing Your Pet’s Teeth
As a pet owner, you play a critical role in your dog or cat’s dental care. Since we only see your companion once or twice a year, it’s up to you to maintain their oral health between those visits. It’s best to establish an at-home dental care regimen for your pet when they’re young. Just as you do for yourself, try brushing your pet’s teeth on a daily basis, if possible. For tips on choosing a toothbrush and toothpaste and on brushing, see below.
Choosing a Toothbrush
Choosing a good toothbrush and toothpaste is obviously the first step in brushing your pet’s teeth. Buy a brush in accordance with the size of your pet’s mouth; use bigger brushes for large breeds and smaller brushes for smaller breeds. There are many different kinds of teeth-cleaning products available for dogs and cats, including special dental sponges, so choose the one that works best for you and your pet.
Choosing a Toothpaste
Just like toothbrushes, there are many toothpaste options for pets. Since pets will likely end up ingesting most of the paste during brushing, use only pet toothpaste. You can choose from a variety of flavors, including chicken, beef, seafood, and mint. Unless you already know what your pet’s favorite is, based on their diet, you may have to experiment with a few flavors to determine which one is best.
Tips on Brushing Your Pet’s Teeth
The first time you brush your pet’s teeth, take your time. Gradually introduce your pet to the toothbrush and reward them with a treat during the process. Make sure your pet is used to having their mouth handled before you begin brushing. If necessary, dip your fingers in chicken broth before you touch their mouth. When your pet is comfortable, you can begin brushing, but the process involves several preliminary steps before you can thoroughly brush the teeth.
Session 1: Start brushing in a calm, quiet area, and place your pet on a leash if necessary to limit their movement. Place a small amount of toothpaste on the brush and focus on cleaning just the surface of the teeth and gums, keeping the mouth closed. Brush each area for just a few seconds. If your pet did well, reward them with a treat. Repeat these steps a couple times a day for about two weeks and gradually increase the amount of time you spend brushing.
Session 2: After your pet has cooperated with the first session, you can start opening their mouth and brushing the teeth from inside the mouth. Spend just a few seconds brushing each tooth, and remember to give treats at the end of the brushing session. Repeat this step twice a day for about three days until your pet is comfortable.
Session 3: When your pet is comfortable with the second session, you can brush both the inner and outer surfaces of the teeth. Since this will be a new experience for your pet, keep the first full brushing session to just a few of minutes. If your schedule allows, brush your pet’s teeth daily. And don’t forget the treat!
The All Valley Pet Hospital team would be happy to answer any questions you have about brushing your pet’s teeth and make recommendations for dental products, like chews and toys that are designed to prevent tartar build up. Schedule your pet’s appointment today!