Brushing Up on Your Pet’s Oral Health

Our fuzzy companions require the same dental procedures we do in order to maintain their oral health and prevent periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissue surrounding the teeth. There are several progressive stages of the disease. Periodontal disease is caused by a bacterial film called plaque. The bacteria attach to the teeth. When the bacteria die they can be calcified by calcium in the saliva, forming a hard, rough material called tartar or calculus. Initially, plaque is soft and can be dislodged by brushing or chewing hard food or toys. As it turns into plaque, professional cleaning is necessary to remove it, especially below the gum line. If left unchecked, the plaque and calculus can spread and lead to gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums that causes them to become red and swollen and to easily bleed. In the final stage of periodontal disease, the infection destroys the tissues surrounding the tooth and the bony socket that holds the tooth erodes, leaving the tooth loose. This can be very painful for your pet. However, periodontal disease can easily be prevented with professional and at-home care.

Our veterinarians recommend yearly oral examinations and dental cleanings. Our dental cleanings include general anesthesia and ultrasonic scaling and polishing of the teeth. Because your pet will undergo general anesthesia, bloodwork and urine analysis might be recommended. The veterinarian might also recommend therapies such as IV Fluids and special anesthetics for your pet. Following the dental cleaning, extractions, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory pain medication may be recommended for your pet depending on the condition of your pet’s oral health.

At home care consists of regular brushing, dental chews and treats and sometimes even a prescription diet or a special treatment you can add to your pet’s drinking water. Your veterinarian can specially tailor an oral health regimen for your pet.

Dental disease is also linked to heart, kidney and lung disease, as well as bladder infections. So keeping your pet’s teeth healthy can help keep their entire body healthy!


— Janni Kimble, RiverWoods Pet Hospital

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