Dental tartar and gingivitis are two common dental conditions affecting your pet’s oral health. These conditions can lead to discomfort, pain, and potential health issues if left untreated.

As a responsible pet owner, it is essential to understand these conditions, how to identify them, and the steps you can take to treat and prevent them. These issues are often caused by a buildup of plaque and bacteria in your cat or dog’s mouth due to poor oral hygiene, which can lead to inflammation and infection if not properly managed.

What is Dental Tartar?

Dental Care for DogsDental tartar, also known as dental calculus, is a mineralized plaque that forms on the teeth. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that builds up on the teeth and can eventually harden into tartar if not removed. It typically appears yellow or brown and can accumulate along the gumline and between the teeth.

Signs Your Pet May Have Dental Tartar

One of the most noticeable signs of dental tartar is bad breath. If your pet’s breath has a foul odor, it could be an indication of dental issues. Other signs may include yellow or brown discoloration on the teeth, swollen or red gums, difficulty eating, and excessive drooling.

Risks of Leaving Dental Tartar Untreated

If left untreated, dental tartar can lead to serious health issues for your pet. Bacteria and plaque buildup can cause gum disease, tooth decay, and even tooth loss. Bacteria from the tartar can also enter the bloodstream and potentially affect other organs in the body.

Treating Dental Tartar

The most effective way to treat dental tartar is through professional dental cleaning by a veterinarian. This involves the removal of plaque and tartar using specialized tools and techniques. Sometimes, your veterinarian may also recommend antibiotics or other treatments if there are signs of infection.

Prevention is Key to Avoiding Tartar

Prevention is always better than treatment when it comes to dental health. Regular at-home dental care, such as brushing your pet’s teeth and providing dental chews or treats, can help remove plaque and prevent tartar buildup.

It is also important to schedule regular dental cleanings with your veterinarian to ensure any tartar buildup is removed before it becomes a severe issue.

What is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums and is often a precursor to more serious dental issues. It is most commonly caused by plaque buildup along the gumline, which can irritate and inflame the gums.

If left untreated, it can progress to periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease that can cause irreversible damage to the gums and teeth.

Signs Your Pet May Have Gingivitis

The signs of gingivitis are similar to those of dental tartar and may include bad breath, red or swollen gums, bleeding gums, and difficulty eating. You may also notice your pet pawing at their mouth or avoiding food due to the discomfort.

Risks of Leaving Gingivitis Untreated

If gingivitis is left untreated, it can lead to more serious dental issues such as periodontitis. This can cause damage to the supporting structures of the teeth, leading to tooth loss and potential infection.

How to Treat Gingivitis

Similar to dental tartar, professional dental cleaning by a veterinarian is the most effective way to treat gingivitis. Your veterinarian may also recommend antibiotics or other treatments depending on the severity of the condition. It is crucial to address gingivitis early to prevent it from progressing to more severe issues.

Preventing Gingivitis

Regular at-home dental care and professional dental cleanings are the best ways to prevent gingivitis. Brushing your pet’s teeth, providing dental treats or chews, and using a water additive can help keep plaque at bay. Regular checkups with your veterinarian can also catch early signs of gingivitis and prevent it from progressing.

How Often Should I Brush My Pet’s Teeth?

Brushing their teeth at least 2-3 times a week is recommended to maintain good oral health for your pet. However, if your pet is prone to dental issues or has already had dental treatments, you may need to brush more frequently. Your veterinarian can provide guidance on the best oral care routine for your specific pet.

Your dog should have professional cleanings done at least once a year, while cats may require cleanings every 2-3 years. Again, this can vary depending on your pet’s needs and should be discussed with your veterinarian.

Tips for Cleaning Your Pet’s Teeth at Home

Use a pet-specific toothbrush and toothpaste specifically designed for pets. Human toothpaste can be harmful if ingested by your pet.

Start slowly and gradually increase the amount of time you spend brushing each day to get your pet used to the process.

Focus on the gumline, as this is where plaque and tartar tend to accumulate.

Reward your pet with praise or treats after brushing to create a positive association.
If your pet is resistant to brushing, consider using dental wipes or oral rinses as an alternative.

What if My Pet Won’t Let Me Brush Their Teeth?

If your pet is resistant to brushing their teeth, there are other options available. As mentioned previously, dental wipes and oral rinses can be used instead. Providing dental chews or treats may also help remove plaque and prevent tartar buildup. If you are having difficulties getting their cooperation, be sure to speak with your veterinarian for tips on getting them used to the process and other options to ensure their dental health is cared for.

Make an Appointment Today!

Dental tartar and gingivitis are common conditions that significantly affect your pet’s oral health. By understanding the signs, risks, and treatment options for these conditions, you can ensure your pet’s teeth and gums stay healthy. Remember to prioritize regular at-home dental care and professional cleanings to prevent these issues from developing or worsening.

Oral health is an integral part of your pet’s overall well-being, and with proper care, you can help keep them happy and healthy for years to come. So, make sure to give your furry friend’s teeth the attention they deserve. Schedule an appointment with the Animal Medical Center of Streetsboro for a checkup, or call today with any questions about your pet’s oral health!