Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Pet Talk

March 18, 2013

Pet Talk: Dental care's important for your dogs and cats

We all know that our teeth are important. We even visit our dentist regularly to have teeth cleanings and oral exams. Keeping our teeth clean is vital to our health and well-being, and that is no different for our pets.

"Ideally, you should brush your pet's teeth daily," states Dr. Johnathon Dodd, clinical professor at Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. "Make sure you are using special toothpaste that is made for pets and is safe for them to swallow. They cannot spit or rinse like we do, so our pets need specific kinds of toothpaste that is not harmful if ingested."

Having your pet’s teeth inspected and cleaned is an important responsibility many owners overlook. This seemingly slight slip of your pet's dental care could be causing serious problems in your pet’s mouth.

Gum disease is the most common disease occurring in pets today. It results from the build-up of soft dental plaque on the surfaces of the teeth around the gums. The bacteria in dental plaque irritate the gum tissue if it accumulates, which leads to infection in the bone surrounding the teeth.

After plaque has formed hard dental tartar, calcium salts from saliva that has been deposited on plaque, begins to grow. If the surface of the tooth does not stay clean, tartar begins to form within a few days.

The un-brushed tooth provides a surface that boosts further plaque accumulation. If plague is allowed to accumulate, tartar is difficult to remove without dental instruments.

For our pets gum disease means bad breath and painful, irritated gums that can lead to bleeding, loss of appetite, and the loss of teeth if the roots have been affected.

There is also the possibility that if the bacteria surrounding the root of the tooth gains access to the bloodstream, it can lead to microscopic damage of the heart, liver, and kidney. As the severity of the gum disease increases, so does the damage.

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