What is Dental Disease?
80% of dogs will have some degree of periodontal disease by age 3. This makes sense if you consider how bad your own teeth would look if you went 3 years without brushing(see the dental chart below)! If allowed to remain on the tooth’s surface, the plaque thickens, becomes mineralized, and creates tartar.
This tartar accumulates above and below the gum line leading to inflammation (gingivitis) and eventually periodontal disease. Periodontal disease occurs when the accumulation of plaque and tartar cause either periodontal pockets or gum recession around the tooth’s attachment. Left untreated, the infection spreads deeper, destroying the bone. Gingivitis is potentially reversible with treatment but periodontal disease is irreversible and can only be slowed down with intensive treatment.
We recommend implementing at-home dental care in puppy-hood.
At-home dental care should be a multi-modal approach that incorporates the options that work best for you and your pet (i.e. options that you will actually be able to follow through with).
THE GOLD STANDARD is brushing the teeth with an enzymatic toothpaste made specifically for pets and a soft-bristle toothbrush or finger brush. You need to brush at least 3 times a week to make a clinical difference.
Water or food additives, dental chews, and prescription dental diets use mechanical and/or enzymatic action to help freshen breath and prevent plaque/tartar accumulation.
Your pet should receive professional scaling, polishing, probing, and charting by a veterinarian under anesthesia every 6-18 months (depending on the level of at-home care and the individual’s propensity for developing dental disease). Small breed dogs usually need their teeth cleaned more often than large breed dogs.
PET PurrFECT PRODUCTS
Look for dental care products with the VOHC Seal of Acceptance.
We carry the Royal Canin Dental diet, enzymatic rawhide chews, and prescription-strength OraVet Dental Hygiene Chews.
Swann Animal Clinic has dental specials twice yearly in August and February. Dental consults can be scheduled anytime and are free of charge (as long as the consult is confined to the mouth).