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Importance of Pet Dental Hygiene

Eighty percent of dogs and cats show oral disease by age 3, and it is the most common health problem treated in small animal health clinics today. The build-up of bacteria in your pet's mouth may cause more than just bad breath. Bacteria is also the cause of oral disease and diseases in other organs like the heart, liver and kidneys.


Just like humans, pet's teeth are prone to plaque build-up, and when allowed to combine with saliva and residual food between the tooth and gum, plaque turns to tartar. If plaque and tartar are not removed routinely by your Veterinarian, they may cause periodontal disease.

Dogs and cats get common dental problems such as dental plaque tartar, gum and tooth disease. It's important to understand the differences between plaque, tartar and periodontal disease and how to prevent them.



Dental plaque is a sticky substance that covers the teeth. It consists of bacteria, saliva, food particles and epithelial cells. Plaque builds up on the tooth surface and gum line every day. Left undisturbed the plaque can mineralize, or harden, in less than 2 days, forming calculus or tartar. Plaque can get worse where teeth are closer together, which will result in bad breath.



Dental tartar is a film that covers teeth consisting of calcium phosphate and carbonate, food particles and other organic matter. The tartar will stick to the tooth surface forming a scaffold for more plaque accumulation. The continued build-up of tartar both above and below the gum line can eventually produce an environment that is a haven for certain types of bacteria that may be more destructive to the periodontal tissues and also produce a more noticeable odor. This can lead to periodontal disease.



Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums most commonly caused by the accumulation of food particles in the crevices between the gums and teeth. The main symptom is bleeding, although you may also notice redness, pain and difficulty in chewing. If gingivitis is not treated, it may lead to periodontitis.



Periodontal disease is a very common infectious disease caused by bacteria that make up plaque. This results in inflammation of the structures that support teeth, the gum tissue, periodontal ligament, alveolus (small cavity) and cementum (bonelike connective tissue covering the root of a tooth and assisting in tooth support). Symptoms of periodontal disease include bad breath and red or inflamed gums. There are other signs of dental disease in your pet that may be more subtle.

Pets may preferentially choose softer foods; play with chew toys less and decline crunchy treats. You may also notice your pet chewing more on the sides of his mouth. He may chew less in general and this sometimes causes the pet to vomit, seen as undigested or poorly chewed food. Increased salivation, pawing at or rubbing the face can be another indication of oral pain.



Broken teeth are a common problem. Most commonly caused by aggressively chewing on hard objects.

Cat at Dentist Dog at Dentist

ToothbrushPreventing Oral Disease:

As an owner you want to start your pets on the road to good dental health. Start by choosing the right dental product, helping your pet achieve healthy mouth.You should have your pet's teeth and gums checked by your Veterinarian. At home, it is important to remember not to use human toothpaste or baking soda. Both can make your pet sick. There are different products available to clean your pet's teeth, including gels, toothbrushes, toothpaste and even diets. Deciding on which one to use often depends on the temperament and age of your dog or cat.

Starting off pets when they are young is the best way to get them to accept regular teeth cleaning. Dental care can begin around 3 to 4 months of age. You can get your kitten or puppy used to having his teeth cleaned by gently rubbing and massaging them with a piece of gauze wrapped around your finger.

Prevention is easy as daily brushing that will remove the plaque, prevent tartar and eventual periodontal disease.


Dental Procedure:

A dental, also sometimes called a "prophy" or prophylaxis, is a cleaning and polishing of a pet's teeth. It is important to realize that dental disease does not reach a particular level and remain there. Dental disease continuously progress. As dental disease progresses, the treatment becomes more involved, meaning longer and more elaborate (and more costly) dental procedures. This means that sooner is better than later when it comes to addressing your pet's dental disease with an appropriate treatment.


Brushing Teeth:

Dental disease is the most common disease in our feline companions. It is also one of the most preventable and treatable disease. We can reduce or even prevent dental disease by feeding a crunchy diet and daily teeth brushing. The following are steps to guide you on how to brush your pet's teeth:

  • The first step is to start with a clean, healthy mouth, such as with a young pet with healthy new teeth and gums or after your pet has had a professional dental cleaning.
  • You will need a soft-bristled tooth brush and toothpaste. Human toothpastes and baking soda may cause problems. Pet's toothpastes have flavors that are appealing to pets. Anything other than a bristled tooth brush will not get below the gum line (the most important area to brush).
  • There are several important facts about our pet's mouths that tell us when, where, and how to brush. Periodontal disease usually affects the upper, back teeth first and worst. Plaque builds up on the tooth surface daily, especially just under the gum line. It takes less than 36 hours for this plaque to become mineralized and harden into "tartar" (calculus) that cannot be removed with a brush. Because of this progression, brushing should be done daily, with a brush to remove the plaque from under the gum line.
  • Pick a time of day that will become a convenient part of your pet's and your daily routine. Brushing before a daily treat can help your pet actually look forward to brushing time. Take a few days to let both of you and your pet get use to the process. Follow with praise and a treat each time.
  • Start by offering him a taste of the toothpaste. The next time, let him taste the toothpaste, then run your finger along the gums of the upper teeth. Repeat the process with the toothbrush. Get the bristles of the brush along the gum line of the upper back teeth and angle slightly up, so the bristles get under the gum line. Work from back to front, making small circles along the gum lines. It should take you less than 30 seconds to brush your pet's teeth. Do not try to brush the entire mouth at first.
  • Even with the best tooth brushing, some pet's may still need an occasional professional cleaning, just like humans. By brushing your pet's teeth daily and curtailing the amount of periodontal disease, you may reduce the frequency and involvement of dental cleanings and provide your pet with a healthier, sweeter smile.
  • Toothbrush

    Features to Consider in Pet's Toothpaste:

  • Ingredients
  • Palatability
  • Digestible
  • Size of container
  • Presentation: paste, liquid, gel, pads, spray, rinse, sponges

  • ToothbrushDesirable Features in Pet's Toothpaste:

  • Easy to Use
  • Safe
  • Enzymatic action
  • Flavors

  • ToothbrushShopping & Safety Tips for Buying Pet Toothpaste:

  • Try to use non-alcohol ingredients in your pet toothpaste, as they are generally more palatable to most cats.
  • Be careful don't get bit when trying to brush your pet's teeth, start gradually and try to make the experience as pleasant as possible.
  • Get your pet used to brushing by starting out with a gloved finger or piece of gauze and cleaner. Take your time getting them comfortable with the brushing action. You do not need to do the entire mouth each time, and may want to work in sections. Next, you can try a finger brush or a cat toothbrush, depending on their level of tolerance.
  • Be careful not to brush too hard or injure your pet while using a pet toothbrush.
  • Keep these products out of the reach of children.
  • Cat Toothbrush

    CET Pet Toothpaste
    CET Pet Toothpaste

    CET Toothbrush

    CET Toothbrush



    NEW! Ora-Clens
    NEW! Ora-Clens



    Easy Brush

    NEW! Easy Brush Chew-It-Yourself Toothbrush


    CET Chews
    CET Chews

    Dental KONGS

    Dental KONGS

    Edible Dental Brush

    NEW! Nutri Dent Edible Dental Brush Singles

    Dentees Chews
    Dentees Chews

    OraVet Treatments

    OraVet 8 x 2.5 mL Treatments