Dental Care and Your Pet

Home dental care is needed to maintain healthy teeth and gums in pets. Brushing your pet’s teeth can help keep plaque and tartar to a minimum in between professional veterinary cleanings. There are many products available to help you with brushing your pet’s teeth. Don’t use human tooth paste, though–pets need toothpaste that is formulated for them! If your pet won’t allow you to brush his/her teeth, there are alternative products to consider. There are special diets formulated to help clean plaque and tartar as the pet crunches the kibble. Greenies are treats that help reduce plaque and tartar buildup on teeth. A vaccine is now available that may help slow the progression of periodontal disease. You can also use gauze, wrapped on your finger to gently clean your pet’s teeth.

There are four stages of Periodontal disease. Your pet’s oral health is directly related to his/her overall health and well-being. Early care and management are key to preventing periodontal disease from progressing.

  • Stage 1 (mild gingivitis): The margin of attached gum is inflamed and swollen. Plaque is present on the teeth and home dental care is important to begin. If improvement is not noted, professional dental cleaning & polishing is needed to remove plaque build-up.
  • Stage 2 (moderate gingivitis): The entire gum appears swollen and inflamed. The mouth may seem painful and breath odor is noticeable. Dental cleaning & polishing is usually needed within the month. A dental care diet and home brushing is highly recommended between professional cleanings.
  • Stage 3 (severe gingivitis): The gums are usually bright red and may be bleeding. The gums have become damaged by infection and calculus. The mouth is painful and breath odor is strong. Dental cleaning & polishing are needed immediately. A dental care diet and home brushing are needed to manage the gingivitis between professional cleanings.
  • Stage 4 (periodontal disease): Chronic infection is destroying the gums, teeth and bone at this point. Bacteria spreads through the body by way of the bloodstream and may cause damage to the kidneys, liver and heart. Dental cleaning & polishing are needed immediately. Some teeth may be loose and need extraction. Continued home dental care is an important part of management of the the progression of this disease.

For more information on dental care for your pet, please visit our dental information website at or call Dr. Dave Lee at the main clinic 317.257.5334. He will be happy to assess your pet’s teeth and gums and develop a care plan tailored to your pet’s individual needs.

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