Healthy oral hygiene is important for our pet for multiple reasons. Clean teeth are not only cosmetically pleasing; they also promote good smelling breath and better long-term health.
If poor oral health causes an infection in our pet’s teeth or gums, it can spread to their kidneys. This is especially true in cats. Older cats often suffer from kidney failure, which can be caused by an oral infection spreading to kidneys. Valvular heart disease can also be caused by poor dental hygiene. Bacteria from a pet’s mouth can travel to its heart valves, causing them to change shape and become leaky.
During your pet’s annual check-up your vet should inspect their mouth and recommend a cleaning when needed. All pets will eventually need their teeth cleaned, but the timing is different based on the individual. Signs your pet may need a teeth cleaning or oral exam include consistent bad breath, visible tartar build up or tooth discoloration, broken or loose teeth, tenderness around the mouth and/or teeth, increased drooling or dropping food, bleeding from the mouth, and loss of appetite. Also, if there’s red inflammation where the teeth meet the gum, there’s likely an infection that should be evaluated and cleaned.
Every pet will eventually need his or her teeth cleaned, there’s simply no way to avoid it. However, to promote good oral health between cleanings, try a few of these tips:
Pet owners often say they don’t get their pet’s teeth cleaned because of the risks associated with anesthesia. It’s true that a pet must be put under general anesthesia to have their teeth cleaned. However, anesthesia is so sophisticated today that it’s very safe and there’s very little risk to a healthy pet. All veterinarians are taught to weigh the benefits to the risk when caring for a pet, and the long-term health benefits of healthy oral hygiene far outweigh the very small risk associated with anesthesia.