February is National Pet Dental Month. Nowadays there seems to be a day or a month for everything! Did you know there is a National Lima Bean Respect Day as well as a National Hexagonal Awareness Month? But Pet Dental Month truly is significant as it brings awareness to the importance of oral care for our pets. Similar to humans, oral health can affect overall well being and comfort.
The Importance of Dental Health in Pets
Most cats and dogs begin to require annual dental cleanings around 2 years old, although some breeds or individuals are more inclined to accumulate tartar sooner. If oral hygiene is not maintained, it can lead to periodontal disease. Infection and inflammation within the mouth can not only lead to gingival disease, pain, tooth loss and bone loss, but even jaw fractures. Bacterial infections within the mouth can also lead to heart, liver or kidney disease!
While most of us floss our teeth and brush multiple times a day, realistically, our cats and dogs do not receive any daily care for their teeth and gums. Even those pet owners who brush their pet’s teeth daily can’t brush them as well their own.
More than Just Brushing
Don’t get me wrong, I think that brushing with pet toothpaste is fantastic, but it just isn’t enough to completely prevent periodontal disease. Yes, some animals have super loving owners who give them dental chews daily, but those once again do not even compare to a proper cleaning.
What is the difference between brushing teeth and a thorough dental cleaning? I’m glad you asked! First the teeth are scaled with instruments to remove the calculus, or cement-like, accumulation. An ultrasonic scaler is used to clean debris from below the gum line where you can’t even see. This helps remove the buildup that leads to periodontal disease and is one of the most important steps.
The Process of a Dental Cleaning
Radiographs are taken to check for problems with the roots of the teeth and surrounding bone. A tooth can look perfectly healthy on the outside, but underneath major problems can hide. A polish of the teeth then helps smooth the surface to prevent accumulation of debris.
Now that you know how important dental care is for your cats and dogs, make sure you call to schedule their cleanings very soon. During National Pet Dental Month we offer a special discount so appointments book up quick. We hope to make some pearly white pet smiles soon!
Dr. Tiffany Beischel is a local licensed veterinarian who is happy to answer any questions you may have about your pets. Feel free to call her at (386) 663-3989.