Plaque is a colorless film composed of bacteria, proteins, sugars, white blood cells, minerals, and water. It forms naturally and continuously on teeth and gums. As with people, within 24 hours of a professional cleaning and polishing, even a healthy mouth will show indication of plaque buildup. This plaque buildup may lead to mouth odor, pain, infection, and possible tooth loss. After mixing with food, and minerals in the saliva, some of the plaque will harden as it dries, becoming tartar. Pockets of infection may form around the roots of the teeth, eventually causing the support of the tooth to be destroyed. All animals are at risk for developing these kinds of dental problems. By the time your pet displays the obvious signs; mouth odor, a crust of tartar around the gum line, pain or bleeding when eating, permanent periodontal damage may have already developed. Periodontal disease can have a larger impact on your pet than simply the loosening and loss of teeth. The risk of the bacteria from the mouth passing into the bloodstream is very high. The bacteria can then cause an inflammatory response in other parts of the body such as the kidneys, heart, liver and lungs.
Oral hygiene is the only effective protection against plaque, tartar, and periodontal disease. A large number of animals will sooner or later present with periodontal disease. Take your pet in for annual health check-up, which includes an oral exam. Get your pet in to have their teeth professionally cleaned and polished as soon as the veterinarian recommends it. The longer you wait, the farther the disease develops towards permanent stages of tooth loss. Get your pet used to daily teeth brushing using toothpaste that is formulated for animal use. There are also prescription diets such as Science Diet® Canine t/d and Royal Canin® Dental DD available that help reduce the buildup of plaque when brushing is not possible.
Brushing an animal's teeth is no simple task; we therefore recommend getting your pet used to brushing at an early age. Start by lifting the lips up and gently rubbing the teeth with your finger, getting as far back at you can, and moving in a circular motion. Once your pet gets comfortable with your finger, move to a soft abrasive material like gauze wrapped around your finger and repeat the process. Once your pet is used to this begin to place a toothbrush in the mouth. Get your pet accustomed to the toothpaste as a treat before moving onto actively using it for brushing. Remember that any mechanical brushing with toothpaste is better than none.
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