Dental care

Your pet's life depends on it. A healthy mouth is the door to a healthy body. Bad breath and brown, deformed teeth are the most disturbing oral disease signs. They are, however, the tip of the iceberg. What you see and smell is the expression of much bigger problems at the microscopic level. A bad mouth is loaded with numerous harmful bacteria that cause progressive damage to the teeth, gums and the rest of the mouth. These bacteria invade the tissues and spread to the rest of the body in the circulating blood. Over time, vital organs such as heart, lungs, liver and kidneys become infected which results in damage and functional impairment.

The preventative answer is continuous dental care. Daily brushing, chew toys and tartar prevention diets are the hallmarks of oral hygiene. Start with a visit to the vet in order to assess your pet's oral condition and overall health. It is a good idea to start at a young age. If you get your puppy used to brushing, things become much easier when he is eighty or a hundred pounds. Your veterinarian will ensure that retained puppy teeth are not left in place to accumulate material and tartar. Retained puppy teeth need to be extracted. Use a finger brush or a square gauze to brush the teeth and massage the gums. Special flavored enzymatic tooth pastes are widely available. It is important to brush the teeth daily. A visit to the groomer once a month for a hair job and teeth brushing will do no good. Odor control products may cover up the bad smell but are not substitutes for brushing. Chew toys and tartar control diets and treats help prevent plaque and tartar build up.

All dogs are not created equal. Some will have better teeth than others. When brushing alone fails to keep the teeth clean, ultrasonic dental scaling and polishing is needed. Your veterinarian will tell you if and how often your pet needs such care. These procedures require light anesthesia. A pre-anesthetic blood test is also recommended. As the years go by, your pet ages and will need more care. Teeth will become loose and root infections, cavities and fractures will develop. These problems are painful and may cause pets to go off their food and become sick. Diseased and injured teeth need to be extracted or restoration procedures must be started.

Keep up with your pet's regular wellness and oral/dental exams so that you can ensure them  the best possible care. Address dental problems before they become complicated, painful and costly. Pets over six years of age need at least two visits a year and a periodic blood test.

Remember, when looking in your pet's mouth, what is there is much more than what you see.

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Yuval Nir
Naperville University Commons Animal Clinic- The-vet.net
1827 Wehrli rd
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Veterinarians, Animal hospital