Should You Brush Your Pet’s Teeth?
Absolutely, especially if you suspect that there is gum disease or periodontal disease! And especially is your pet is a cat or a dog. Beagle dogs are so prone to periodontal disease that they are often used to study medications and therapy for human periodontal disease.
See this information from PetMD.com!
Periodontal Disease in Dogs
Periodontal disease is an inflammation of some or all of a tooth’s deep supporting structures. Today, it is one of the most common diseases in dogs.
If food particles and bacteria are allowed to accumulate along the dog’s gumline, it can form plaque, which, when combined with saliva and minerals, will transform into calculus. This causes gum irritation and leads to an inflammatory condition called gingivitis. Gingivitis, which is evidenced by a reddening of the gums directly bordering the teeth, is considered to be an early stage of periodontal disease.
After an extended period, the calculus builds up under the gum and separates it from the teeth. Spaces will form under the teeth, fostering bacterial growth. Once this happens, the dog has irreversible periodontal disease. This usually leads to bone loss, tissue destruction and pus formation in the cavities between the gum and teeth. (The same is true for humans!)
Periodontal disease affects both cats and dogs of all ages, though it is more common in older animals. If you would like to learn how this disease affects cats, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.
What Dr. Gillis recommends:
Spend some time to look at your pet’s teeth and gums! The tissue should look healthy and should not bleed when you press on it. Healthy gum tissue in pets may have several colors depending on the breed. Look for deposites of tartar or calculus on the teeth and look especially close at the tissue surrounding these deposits – you are tryig to see if there are signs of gum disease, gingivitis or periodontal disease. Give your pet time to adjust to having you look at his teeth. You can often hold your pet’s head comfortably and lift the ‘lips’ to reveal the teeth. This may be easiest to do when your pet is tired. The teeth should not be loose unless they are ‘baby’ teeth which are usually lost in the first year or so.
If the gums are inflamed (gingivitis), try brushing them regularly as well as providing special pet chews that stimulate the gum tissues for optimal health. Some pets can maintain healthy periodontal tissues (gums and teeth) with rawhide chews or other gum stimulators sold for pets.
Once heavy tartar deposits are present and periodontal disease has begun, a veterinarian will usually have to clean your pet’s teeth under full anesthesia which can be very expensive but is often necessary to save teeth and eliminate infection and pain.
Further infections can be prevented with good oral care!
Many pets will actually enjoy having their teeth brushed. You can use a water moistened toothbrush or use a pet friendly toothpaste (i.e., chicken flavor!) Pets usually do not like the foaming, minty toothpastes that we humans prefer.
And if you have any further questions, please contact our office for information.
Respectfully submitted by Dr. Julie Gillis