Dental Care & Procedures

5 Quick Tips For Dental Health

We require a pre-dental exam in order to give you an accurate estimate of cost.  Gingivitis and tartar are common problems we see at PCAH.  What’s more, much of the disease we see is entirely preventable. Below are the top five tips for ensuring your pet’s oral health.

1.  No Bones About it

Animal bones, as well as other hard chew toys, are a major cause of broken teeth.  This leads to serious pain, sets the tooth up for deep infection, and generally necessitates either extraction (Several hundred dollars) or a dental specialist for a root canal (even more expensive).  Beef bones, antlers and hard plastic toys like Nyla-Bones are all culprits - keep them away from your dog!  Toys made of heavy-duty rubber are a much safer option for satisfying your dogs need to chew.

2.  Learn to Brush Your Pet's Teeth

Just like with your own teeth, daily brushing is the best thing you can do to maintain oral health between professional cleanings.  If you approach it properly nearly all dogs and cats will tolerate tooth brushing well - and may even seem to enjoy it.  If you get a new puppy or kitten, start EARLY...so they get used to daily brushing.

The trick is to approach it as a training task. Make a goal to work with your pet for a few minutes every night, slowly building up to brushing their entire mouth over the course of three or four weeks. Find a flavor of pet toothpaste they like (NO human toothpaste) and start by letting them just lick it off the brush. Then spend a few nights brushing one tooth, or just playing with their lips – whatever they are comfortable with. Stick with it, and as they become more comfortable each day you can work up to brushing their teeth just as thoroughly as your own!

3.  Products

You’ve surely seen loads of products claiming to help maintain your pet’s dental health – and you’ve probably (rightly) wondered if any of them are effective. While brushing is the gold-standard for home care, there are plenty of special diets, chews and more that can help reduce plaque buildup. The Veterinary Oral Health Council is a group of veterinary dentists that evaluate dental health products for safety and efficacy.. We stock toothbrushes and toothpaste at the clinic, and you can find others at local stores or our online store Vetsource.

4.  Watch for the following warning signs

Recognition is the first step in treatment.  Here are the most obvious signs of serious oral health problems:

  • Bad breath
  • Red, swollen gums around teeth
  • Eating slower, or with only one side of the mouth
  • Facial swelling
  • Change in attitude (less playful, less active, more grumpy, etc.)
  • But the MOST commonly recognized sign of oral disease is…
  • No obvious signs at all

Watching closely for the above signs is really, really valuable. In fact, one of the best things about tooth-brushing is it makes you much more observant of what’s going on in your pet’s mouth. However, many of the serious problems we see have no obvious signs to the untrained eye – imagine you had a toothache, but couldn’t communicate it to anyone. How would anyone know? That’s just one more reason why regular checkups with your vet are so important.

5.  There are NO Substitutes for Regular Professional Cleanings & Exams.

Even though you brush your own teeth two or three times a day, you still see your dentist for an exam and cleaning at least once a year. Your pets do not have the ability to keep their mouth healthier than yours – they need the same care you do!  Gingivitis can cause multiple health issues.  Your pet may be living in pain!

Maybe even more important is the fact that many problems hide in pet’s mouths and will only  be recognized with a thorough exam.  In January, we will have dental x-rays, but for right now if we see that your pet has really bad teeth in your pre-dental exam, we may refer you to a dental expert who will do a dental exam & x-rays under anesthesia. 

It is difficult to thoroughly examine the mouth of an awake animal, so when you come in for your cleaning, we may find additional problems that were not obvious.  Studies have found that x-rays identify important problems in teeth that looked normal to the naked eye in over 25% of dogs and 40% of cats. That is one reason we are purchasing dental x-ray equipment.  We will be able to provide a much better dental for your pet. 

If you are new to us, you can take advantage of our FREE new client exam and the Vet will be glad to give you an estimate.  If you are already an existing client, when you have your next exam, the Veterinarian can give you a dental estimate.