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  • Writer's pictureClinique Vet LaSalle

The importance of dental care for your companion… what you should know

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Would you go an entire week without brushing your teeth? How about a month or a lifetime? This may seem absurd because our oral hygiene is indispensable. Our dental professionals recommend that we brush our teeth 2-3 times daily, so why wouldn’t we do the same for our pets?

What goes unnoticed in our pet’s mouth:

Have you ever wondered what that sticky, granular film on your teeth was? This is called plaque. Plaque is a layer of bacteria and food residues that begins to accumulate on the tooth surface, above and below the gumline, only a few hours after brushing your teeth. It is not visible to the naked eye. When you brush your teeth, the bristles clean the tooth surface and underneath the gums, which removes the plaque that has multiplied. Within 24-48 hours, the plaque transforms into tartar (calcification). This same process occurs with dogs and cats. Contrary to popular belief that tartar can be removed by brushing your pet’s teeth, it can only be eliminated by your veterinary professionals and their dental instruments.

There are many stages of periodontal disease; some symptoms you might notice are:

  • Bad breath

  • Inflamed, red or swollen gums

  • Yellow or brown teeth

  • Chewing on one side of the mouth

  • Mobile teeth/loss of a tooth

  • Reluctant to be touched near the head/mouth

  • Difficulty eating or food falling out of their mouth during mastication

  • Loss of appetite

If left untreated, bacteria can travel into the blood stream and affect not only the mouth, but also the heart and other crucial organs such as the kidneys and the liver.

How to brush your pet’s teeth:

We recommend a simple and efficient method that consists of using a flavorful toothpaste that your cat and dog enjoys (chicken, seafood, beef flavored, etc.) combined with positive reinforcement (using a key word: ‘’Yes!’’ or ‘’Good boy!’’ at the exact moment your animal does what you want them to do).

What else can I do?

In addition to brushing your pet’s teeth, veterinarians recommend dental food and regular dental cleanings.

How dental food works:

Dental kibbles are much larger than average. With every bite your animal takes, the kibble envelopes the tooth thereby cleansing the surface and the surrounding gums by removing most of the plaque and debris buildup.

When should I start?

Right now! If possible, teeth brushing should be introduced at a very young age, even when they still have their baby teeth! We want to desensitize them and make this an enjoyable habit for both you and your pet. The sooner you begin, the easier it will be. However, this does not mean that your five-year-old Labrador shouldn’t also benefit from oral health – it is never too late to introduce new habits. It’s a process that should be introduced in your daily routine, starting today!

We love our furry companions and enjoy their snuggles and kisses. It is in our best interest to begin this health routine so that their kisses are just that much better next time! Ask your veterinarian team about oral health next time you visit us.

An example of before and after professional dental cleaning:

Isabelle Ladouceur, Certified Technician

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