Doggie Breath is a Medical Condition, Not Part of Life. And It's Not Just For Dogs!!
Before Dental Cleaning After Dental Cleaning
Every moment of every day plaque is forming in your pet’s mouth. Plaque is a colorless film (biofilm) that builds upon the teeth. It is made up almost entirely of bacteria. These microorganisms are naturally found in the oral cavity, and are normally harmless. However, if the plaque is not removed it builds in layers. As plaque builds, acid is released-weakening the surrounding teeth. Plaque can easily be removed by regular tooth brushing, undisturbed plaque begins to mineralize and harden. Hard, mineralized plaque is called calculus (a.k.a. tartar). Unlike plaque, calculus cannot be removed by brushing and may form above and below the gum line. Because calculus creates rough surfaces on the tooth, it creates a perfect environment for rapid plaque growth. Calculus and plaque accumulating on the teeth will irritate the gum tissue, causing swelling, inflammation, and bleeding gums, as well as bad breath. This stage is referred to as gingivitis. Gingivitis is reversible by a professional dental cleaning and home care, if left untreated will lead to periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease is the most common disease in cats and dogs. About 85% of all dogs and cats have some form of it. Periodontal disease is characterized by red, inflamed, bleeding gums, inflammation of the deeper connective tissue which surrounds the teeth, bone loss and tooth loss. Periodontal disease is often very painful for pets, and you may notice your pet seems reluctant to eat. Chronic periodontal disease not only affects the structure and function of the teeth, but can seriously affect the overall health of your pet. Bacteria associated with periodontal disease can enter the bloodstream and cause infection in the heart, lungs or kidneys. Periodontal disease is not curable, but can be controlled through regular dental cleanings and diligent homecare.
When was the last time you peeked in your pet’s mouth? Take a peek, take a whiff- I double dare you! Mmmm, the smell! Putrid fish in cats, and dogs…what is that- dead opossum?!? “Doggy breath” is not a part of life; it is usually the first sign of a dental concern.
Good dental health starts at home. Though easier to start when pets are young, dental home care can be instituted at any age. There are many dental products to choose from, making it easy to find what works best for you and your pet.
3 Easy Steps to Fight Plaque-Forming Bacteria:
Step One- Good to Chew. Dental chews are probably the most popular form of home care because they require little effort on the owner’s part. Dental treats are an effective way to keep the chewing surfaces of the teeth clean, but do little to maintain healthy gums. If treats are the thing for you, using a prescription dental chew containing chlorhexidine is the best way to go. Chlorhexidine is considered the gold standard for pet oral antiseptics, think of it like the Listerine® for pets. A chew containing chlorhexidine not only keeps the chewing surfaces of teeth clean, but also reduces the bacteria present in the mouth-slowing the growth rate of plaque and calculus.
Step Two- Better to Rinse. Dental rinses contain chlorhexidine, as well as zinc and cetylpyridium chloride to fight plaque, maintain oral health, and freshens breath. They are easy to apply and can be used with or without tooth brushing. Rinsing is more effective than chews because it offers quick coverage of the entire mouth.
Step Three- Best to Brush. Daily brushing is the best way to maintain dental health. Brushing your pet’s teeth with a pet toothpaste containing chlorhexidine not only removes plaque from teeth and gums before it mineralizes, but also reduces the amount of bacteria in the mouth-slowing the growth rate of plaque. Because of the fluoride content of human toothpaste, it is NOT recommended to use human toothpastes on pets. Pet toothpastes come in a variety of flavors, including poultry, seafood and vanilla mint. Pet toothbrushes come in a wide variety of colors and sizes specifically designed for the differing needs of cats, dogs, and their owners.
Tips for Making Tooth Brushing Successful
Ø Patience! Patience! Patience! Remember, this is new to your pet-especially if you are starting when your pet is older.
Ø The first few days, you will simply be introducing the toothpaste. Apply the toothpaste to your finger and offer it to your pet. By using a flavor such as poultry, your pet will think he is getting a tasty treat.
Ø Once your pet is familiar with the toothpaste, they will then need to become accustom to you being in their mouth. This is best accomplished by use of a finger toothbrush (a vinyl sheath with bristles that slips onto your finger) or a gauze pad wrapped around your finger. Place the pet tooth paste onto the finger brush and gently navigate your finger around your pet’s mouth. If they seems hesitate at first, start with a small area of the mouth and increase the work size over the next few nights.
Ø When your pet is comfortable with the finger brush, you can then work up to a full sized pet toothbrush. In some cases, pet’s will except an electric toothbrush or ultrasonic toothbrush which makes for faster brushing.
Ø Daily brushing is optimal, but not always practical. Set a goal of brushing your pet’s teeth three times a week, and perhaps use dental treats in between brushings.