February is dental health month.
Dental disease is one of the most common medical conditions seen by veterinarians. Over 68% of dogs over the age of 3 and 2/3 of cats over the age of 3 are estimated to have some form of periodontal or dental disease.
The mouth is home to 1000s of bacteria and as they multiple on the surfaces of the teeth, they form an invisible layer called plaque. If allowed to stay on the tooth surface, plaque thickens and becomes mineralized. Mineralized plaque forms tartar and tartar thickens to become calculus.
The best way to prevent tartar build-up is regular home care, particularly tooth brushing. This might be difficult in cats and some dogs, in which case a routine cleaning under general anesthetic may be recommended.
Your veterinarian can also give you specific dietary recommendations that can benefit your pet’s dental health. In addition to brushing, there are mouthwashes and gels that can be applied to the teeth to reduce the number of bacteria present. Speak to your veterinarian about what is best for your pet.