Dental CareThe mouth of cats and dogs is perfectly designed to perform its primary function – eating! Teeth need to be sharp and healthy for this to happen. So it is imperative owners ensure the overall health of these to maintain a healthy pet. Pets with an unhealthy oral cavity can be susceptible to all sorts of unfavorable bacteria residing within, gum and lip ulcerations, receding gums, teeth issues and plaque buildup. Bacteria from plaque on decaying teeth can enter the bloodstream. Here they can invade the heart and settle to reproduce in the heart lining or heart valves causing a condition known as bacterial endocarditis. Kidney damage and joint problems can also result from this bacterial invasion. Toxins, too, can be absorbed into the bloodstream through open mouth sores.How can you maintain a healthy oral cavity in your pet?Your pet’s teeth and gums should be checked at least once a year by your veterinarian for early signs of problems and to maintain your pet’s healthy mouth. Go earlier if you observe any signs of dental issues such as bad breath, broken or loose teeth or a change in your pet’s eating habits as in abnormal chewing, drooling or dropping of food. Be careful when checking your pet’s mouth, as a pet in distress, or fear, can bite.How does the veterinarian clean your pet’s teeth?A veterinarian can perform dental procedures of examining, cleaning and extracting teeth. Veterinary technicians, under the supervision of the veterinarian, may also perform dental procedures of cleaning and polishing. Similar to what you experience during your visit to the dentist, a veterinarian will evaluate your pet’s oral health; x-rays may be taken to check on health of jaw and the teeth roots below the gumline. Your pet’s dental evaluation and cleaning including scaling and polishing are performed under anesthesia. This ensures the safety and comfort of your pet, providing a stress free environment. Blood tests to check your pet’s liver and kidney values will be performed before any anesthesia is administered, to ensure the highest safety margins.What can you do at home to maintain your pet’s healthy mouth?Regularly brushing your pet’s teeth is the single most effective way of maintaining your pet’s oral health. Just as in humans, teeth brushing removes residual food from mouth and helps to reduce plaque buildup. Dogs are more acceptable of this procedure; cats tend to resist. Ask your Veterinarian for training on the correct method of cleaning teeth. Be patient with your pet and be sure to reward him or her afterward with a healthy treat and lots of affection. Special prescription diets geared toward keeping teeth clean are available as well as a variety of dental treats. Ask our doctors or staff to show you some options.