Living Longer By Taking Care of Those Precious Teeth

It has been said by veterinary dental specialists that if you brush your dog’s or cat’s teeth regularly that they will live to 17 or 18 years old.  If you don’t your pet may only live until around age 12.  Though that may not always be true, the principal is that regular dental care will extend both the quality and life span of your pet and prevent many future diseases.

Approximately 85% of dogs over 4 years of age have incurable periodontal disease.  It can be controlled and prevented by doing the following things:

  • Brush your pet’s teeth regularly. Brushing daily is best but every other day is still very effective.  Start as a puppy to get them used to having a toothbrush in their mouth.  Use a child’s soft bristle toothbrush or a dog specific brush available at veterinary clinics and pet supply stores.
  • Feed a diet specific for preventing plaque and tartar accumulation. We specifically recommend Hills t/d diet.  The tooth actually embeds into the fabric of the kibble, before it breaks apart, which then flosses the tooth.  It is very effective if used daily. To economize, it can be mixed with their regular diet.
  • See your veterinarian regularly. Examining the teeth for disease, fractures and looseness is just the start.  The gums are examined for painful inflammation, infection, injuries, and tumors/cancer.  The tongue and palate are also examined for stomatitis and other diseases.
  • Have your dog’s or cat’s teeth cleaned and polished regularly. Remember, having your pet’s teeth cleaned yearly is like us having our teeth cleaned every 6 to 7 years.  That’s a long time!  During the prophy, the teeth are charted and probed for periodontal pockets, x-rayed for tooth root infection and abscesses, cleaned on both the tooth surface and under the gums, and finally the teeth are polished to slow the re-accumulation of tartar.

Follow these four steps and your pet will likely live longer and be more vital during his or her lifetime.

Authored by Dr. Peter De Waal