National Pet Dental Health Month highlights importance of dental cleanings

Sponsored by VCA Hawaii

February is National Pet Dental Health Month, and while it’s always important to take care of a pet’s teeth, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) sponsors the month every year to highlight the importance of oral health care for pets.

Dr. Dan Severson works with animals at the VCA Kaneohe Animal Hospital. He explains that during a pet’s yearly examination, it is very important for veterinarians to check the animal’s teeth. If there’s an appreciable amount of tartar or gingivitis, which indicates disease in the mouth, the doctor will recommend a dental cleaning. Like humans, bad breath is often a warning sign of gum disease, so owners should contact their veterinarian to schedule an appointment.

During a dental cleaning, pets are put under general anesthesia. Doctors then do a thorough oral examination, which includes looking for periodontal pockets and other signs of significant disease in the mouth. Each tooth is scaled, rinsed and polished, then full dental X-rays are taken of each tooth so doctors can see below the gum line.

The frequency of dental cleanings vary from animal to animal. Smaller breeds and animals that are mouth-breathers tend to develop tartar more quickly. That being said, some animals need to have their teeth cleaned twice a year, but generally once a year is sufficient.

The most effective way to keep a pet’s gums healthy is to brush its teeth daily with a veterinary toothpaste, which are often flavored and help pets be more cooperative during the process. For pets getting used to daily oral health care, Dr. Severson recommends playing with the animal’s muzzle or use a bare finger, just to get them comfortable with fingers in and around the mouth. He says owners can then try toothbrushes, or even use an old shirt. Just strip it and wrapped around a finger to provide some abrasion with the toothpaste.

VCA Kaneohe Animal Hospital
VCA Kaneohe Animal Hospital is a full-service veterinary hospital, accredited at the highest level by the American Animal Hospital Association, specializing in small animals. The hospital has been part of the VCA network since 1996, providing them with access to extensive veterinary resources.

VCA Kaneohe Animal Hospital believes in the highest quality medicine and offers advanced services and equipment. In addition to regular wellness care and general practice, they provide extensive experience in orthopedic and soft tissue surgery, endoscopy and ultrasound services, and after-hour emergency on-call service and hospital care. The hospital provides alternative medicine through acupuncture and herbal medicine and also offers boarding services with 24-hour access to their highly qualified veterinary staff.

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