February is National Pet Dental Health Month

February is dental month at Oaklawn Animal Hospital. Dental care is an important part of your pets’ overall health and should be addressed year round but we use this month to focus on addressing dental problems and preventative care to help prevent problems in the future. Dental disease can result in pain, infections, decreased appetite and even other systemic diseases and we want to do our best to help your pet live a long, happy, healthy life.

“Dentals” or full dental cleaning and assessment procedures are a critical part of dental care for our dogs and cats. We visit our own dentists twice a year for thorough cleanings under our gumlines, assessment of our gums and teeth as well as x-rays. As you can imagine, this procedure can be very scary and uncomfortable for our pets so this does require full anesthesia in veterinary medicine. Since the pets are anesthetized and not feeling any pain, if we identify loose teeth, painful teeth, or bone loss, we can often take care of these problems at the same time. We recommend “dentals” yearly in many cases but it is best to discuss this with your veterinarian.

In between “ dentals”, the best way to keep your pets’ teeth and gums healthy is to brush their teeth at home with a special veterinary toothpaste such as CET paste. Many dogs and cats will become accustomed to the brushing and even look forward to it as a treat. We have handouts on how to brush and are happy to demonstrate during an examination or as a technician appointment.

There are other preventative measures for your pet’s dental care to use in addition to brushing or if your pet does not tolerate brushing. Adding a dental additive to your pets’ water such as “Healthy Mouth” can help to decrease the bacteria present in your pets’ mouth and help to slow down progression of tartar and plaque. Additionally, if your dog is a chewer and can safely eat rawhide, we also recommend the CET Enzymatic chews or the CET VeggieDent chews as a healthy chew toy to promote healthy teeth and gums. There are many other water additives, gels, and dental chews available over the counter so if you find a product that you are interested in trying, not all are as beneficial as they claim. Look for products that are approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council. Please do not hesitate to call if there is something else you would prefer to try.

If you are worried your pet has significant dental disease to start with (bad breath, bright red or bleeding gums, loose teeth, tartar or discoloration to the teeth and pain when chewing or dropping food), it would be best to schedule an examination with one of the veterinarians here at Oaklawn Animal Hospital to discuss their oral health and come up with an appropriate plan.