One of the most overlooked aspects in preventative maintenance
is dental care. It is very important to the health of your pet.
Dogs and cats do have problems with their teeth. Many of these
problems are very slow in onset. Reluctance to eat, odor from the
mouth, loss of energy, and reluctance to play are a few of the
signs that may point to dental disease.
Periodontal disease is the most common cause of dental problems.
It starts as bacterial growth on the surface of the tooth and the
tissues around the teeth. The bacteria produce toxins that injure
this tissue. As periodontal disease progresses, bacteria enter
deeper into the soft tissue and destruction of the connective
tissue begins. This will appear as a reddened and somewhat swollen
gum at the base of the teeth. As the tissue loss continues, the
pocket deepens. Calculus, a hard calcium deposit, forms under the
gum tissue. The bone holding the tooth in place recedes as the
inflammatory process progresses. Serious problems occur at this
time, resulting in destruction of the supporting structures around
the tooth, making the tooth loose and painful. The gingival
infection results in a discharge of debris, organisms, and toxins
into the blood stream, possibly creating infections in the joints,
liver, heart and kidneys. These infections may result in fatal
Should your pet's teeth already be damaged, good professional
care, followed by good home care, will result in reduced likelihood
of more severe problems. Your pet's teeth should be professionally
cleaned at least once yearly and more often if there is already
severe periodontal disease present. Should calculus, pain, odor, or
redness around the gums appear, the teeth should be examined by a
veterinarian. Advanced cases of periodontal disease often require
extraction of severely diseased teeth. There are some new implant
products that can be used to try to "salvage" borderline teeth.
Prevention of dental problems and care of the teeth begins at
home by training your pet to accept teeth brushing. Establish a
routine of brushing your pet's teeth with gauze around your finger.
Use a circular motion with the stroke emphasized away from the gum
tissue. At first don't use cleaning agents. You can use beef or
chicken broth with dogs or tuna water with cats to get them
accustomed to the routine. Once your pet has accepted the
procedure, start using a fingerbrush or very soft pet toothbrush
instead of the gauze. Also, at this time begin using C.E.T. pet
toothpaste because it has enzymatic ingredients that kill bacteria.
Other products that help keep the teeth clean are C.E.T. Rawhide
Chews and Hill's t/d diet.
Very extensive dental care is only beneficial if you follow up
with good home care!