Vet Blog

The ABCs of Your Pet’s Dental Health

February 22, 2023

As a pet owner, you want to take care of your four-legged friend's health to ensure they live a long and happy life.

A key aspect of your pet's overall health is their oral health, as dental disease can affect their entire body. Left untended, dental disease can lead to systemic infection, in addition to heart, liver, and kidney disease. Dental disease can cause your pet a great deal of pain, which you can easily help prevent by ensuring they receive regular oral health care. Help your furry pal enjoy a healthy smile by following our Stone Ridge Veterinary Medical Center & Pet Resort team's ABCs of pet dental health.

Avoid Giving Your Pet Extremely Hard Chew Toys

While gnawing appropriate chew toys can help scrape away plaque and tartar from your pet's teeth, a toy that is too hard can damage them. Chewing items, such as cow hooves, deer antlers, and bones, can wear away your pet's tooth enamel, or chip or fracture their teeth. Rubber and plastic chew toys can also be too hard. If you cannot dent a chew toy's surface with your fingernail, the product is too hard and can damage your pet's teeth.

Brush Your Pet's Teeth Daily

At-home daily toothbrushing is most important to helping maintain your pet's oral health. A few short hours after eating, plaque begins forming on your pet's teeth, hardening into difficult-to-remove tartar within 24 hours. By brushing your furry pal's teeth every day, you remove plaque before the sticky substance becomes cement-like tartar, increasing your pet's oral bacterial load.

If you cannot brush your pet's teeth daily, provide them some form of regular dental care. Choose products that bear the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal of approval. VOHC-approved chews, treats, oral wipes and rinses, diets, and food and water additives slow plaque and tartar accumulation. In addition to toothbrushing, offering your pet approved dental chews, or adding an enzymatic dental cleaning product to their water or food, can help greatly reduce your pet's dental disease risk.

Check Your Pet's Oral Health Regularly

Your pet's mouth can hide a lot of disease under their tongue, below their gumline, or way in the back by their molars. Because your furry pal likely won't let you know periodontal problems are causing them pain until dental disease becomes severe, you must become their oral health advocate and regularly check inside their mouth. Lift your pet's lip and look closely along the gum line, where most tartar accumulation and gingivitis signs can be observed. If your pet will allow you, open their mouth and peer toward their throat to check for unusual lumps or bumps, sores, or other abnormalities. During your pet's at-home oral examination, take note of dental disease signs such as:

  • Bad breath
  • Red, inflamed, swollen, or bleeding gums
  • Yellow, grey, or brown tartar on the teeth
  • Cracked, worn, loose, or broken teeth

By regularly monitoring your pet's dental health, you can quickly spot problems and get treatment. However, dental disease often begins below the gum line, and only your veterinarian can detect these problems through a professional oral examination and dental cleaning.

Determine How Frequently Your Pet Needs Professional Dental Cleanings

In addition to regular daily at-home care, your pet needs professional dental cleanings. To perform a professional dental cleaning, your veterinarian will administer anesthesia, which enables them to remove bacteria and tartar thoroughly from below your pet's gumline, including those hard-to-reach spots toothbrushing misses, and areas with heavy tartar accumulation. During your pet's dental cleaning, our Stone Ridge Veterinary Medical Center & Pet Resort team will also take full-mouth dental X-rays to detect hidden disease, and address all your pet's dental problems.

While most pets need dental cleanings every one to two years, some pets require more frequent dental cleanings to maintain good oral health. Breeds such as Yorkies, dachshunds, Chihuahuas, bulldogs, and greyhounds need dental cleanings every 6 to 12 months, depending on how quickly tartar accumulates. To maintain your pet's dental health, schedule regular oral exams with your Stone Ridge Veterinary Medical Center & Pet Resort veterinarian to determine your pet's professional dental cleaning frequency.

Embark on a Dental Care Adventure With Your Pet

Now that you know how to spot your four-legged friend's potential dental disease, and how you can help manage their oral health at home, you have begun your dental care adventure. Strive to take care of your pet's teeth daily through toothbrushing and the use of approved dental care products. To achieve a better understanding of your pet's dental health and to remove all plaque and tartar from their teeth, ensure you schedule regular professional oral exams and dental cleanings. Through regular dental care, you can help your pet maintain a pain- and infection-free, healthy smile.

Brushing your pet's teeth is the best way to manage their oral health at home, but regular professional dental cleanings are essential for tackling the impossible-to-reach tartar below the gumline. Schedule your pet's professional oral exam and cleaning with our Stone Ridge Veterinary Medical Center & Pet Resort team.