How Important Are Your Pet’s Teeth?
Let’s first ask how important are your teeth? Do you brush regularly? Visit a dentist for cleaning and exams? If you have a toothache, how long do you wait to have it treated? What would you do if you lost a tooth or your gums started to bleed frequently?
When it comes to your pet, why should the answers be any different? In fact, a pet’s dental health may be even more vital to their happiness and quality of life. Neglecting your pet’s dental care can cause serious health problems. Besides pain and swelling, periodontal disease can lead to systemic infections, behavioral problems and even heart disease. You can keep your pet’s teeth and gums healthy by doing many of the same things you do for your own teeth:
- Brushing your pet’s teeth daily with a pet-approved toothpaste can help reduce the accumulation of dental tartar and prevent gum disease. Regular toothbrushes or finger-brushes make can make this easy, and when you do it regularly, most pets get used to having it done.
- Feeding kibble (dry food) helps keep gums and bite healthy while providing mild, healthy abrasion that scrapes the tooth surfaces.
- Most pets require regular veterinary treatment to clean below the gum line and remove any hardened tartar and dental plaque that cause inflammation and gum disease. (For the safety and comfort of the pet, and to ensure a thorough and complete evaluation and cleaning, this is typically performed under general anesthesia.)
The most common warning signs of dental issues include:
1. Bad breath
This is the most overlooked warning sign. “Dog breath” leads many people to give pets dental chews and other products designed to help improve breath odor. However, the root cause of the bad odor is very often tartar accumulation and dental decay. A veterinary visit can quickly determine whether dental cleaning or other treatment is needed to make their kisses welcome!
2. Picky eating or dropping food from mouth
If you pet is accustomed to eating dry kibble but appears to lose interest, or you must soften their food, it could be a sign that your pet’s teeth are causing discomfort. Similarly, if they appear to have trouble biting down or drop the food while chewing it, the cause might be dental pain.
3. Loose or missing teeth
Healthy gums will hold healthy teeth firmly in place. If a pet has a loose or missing tooth, be sure to get it checked to prevent needless pain and further progression of any periodontal problems.
4. Drooling or rubbing their face excessively
Many pets do not whine or cry as a response to dental pain, so unusual behavior may be a sign that something’s wrong. If you notice your pet is drooling more than normal or rubbing their face/snout on the floor or furniture, it could be due to periodontal pain.
5. Blood on chew toy
If you find blood or blood-tinged saliva on chew toys or in the water bowl, it could be due to bleeding from inflamed or infected gums and it’s very likely the pet is in some degree of pain or discomfort.
Should you notice one or more of these warning signs, a veterinarian should be consulted to avoid more serious problems from developing.