By Dr Joyce Chow

Over 80% of dogs and cats over 3 years old have some form of dental disease. Dental disease causes bad breath, a source of infection and can make your pet suffer in pain.

Everything starts when plaque forms. Plaque is like an adhesive tape composed of mucin, sloughed cells and bacteria. It starts forming two days after cleaning. If the plaque is not removed, minerals in the food can precipitate to form calculus (tartar). Tartar is very irritable to the gum tissue and it changes the pH of the mouth, allowing bacteria to live under the gum. By-products of these bacteria will destroy those supportive structures of a tooth and eventually affect the root and bone.

Your pets need your help to maintain healthy teeth and gums throughout their lives!

Good dental health begins with an appropriate diet! Dry food provides moderate abrasive action on the teeth, helps to remove the bacterial plaque that can develop into tartar. Feeding your pet sweets and table scraps will increase plaque formation. We recommend the use of special dental diet designed to reduce plaque and tartar accumulation, especially if your pet is prone to dental disease.

Offer tooth-safe toys to help with oral health! You want to avoid chews that are too hard and you may want to consider those treats that are impregnated with enzymes to help prevent plaque buildup.

Brush regularly! Pets should have their teeth brushed regularly to eliminate plaque and this is the most effective means to maintain oral health. We recommend a daily brushing routine as soon as you bring your puppy or kitten home. Even older pets can be trained to accept teeth brushing. Can’t brush their teeth? Consider using an oral cleansing gel to maintain their oral health.

Don’t forget a yearly dental check up! An oral examination will be performed on your pet by the veterinarian to design a preliminary diagnostic plan. Our fluffy friends, like us, need routine professional dental care in order to maintain a healthy and pain-free mouth. It is not until your pet is anesthetised that a complete and thorough evaluation can be accomplished, including visual exam, probing and radiographic exam to determine a more specific treatment plan.

Once your pet’s teeth are in good shape – that’s an end to bad breath and pain!