Petie's teeth are very clean!
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|Clearing The Air On Doggy (And Kitty) Breath
Although doggy or kitty breath may not rank among the sweetest of subjects, veterinary medicine can help explain what can be done to keep Bowzer's or Bootsie's breath clean. Pet owners can take comfort that by caring for their pet's dental needs, they are preventing life-threatening diseases as well.
Human Dental Care vs. Pet Dental Care
As in humans, plaque buildup starts a process that can end with serious periodontal disease or worse. Plaque is a film made up of mostly bacteria that forms continually on teeth. While this formation is a natural process, once bacterial plaque moves under the gums, it can destroy tissue. Bad breath is just one byproduct of this tissue destruction.
As a pet's saliva reacts with plaque, tartar forms, causing inflamed gums and a condition called gingivitis. Left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontal disease or a breakdown of tissues that surround and support the teeth.
Cats or dogs with periodontal disease can have sore, bleeding, receding or eroded gums, as well as loose, broken and infected teeth. But even worse, the bacteria from these infections can enter the bloodstream and move throughout their bodies, producing infection in the kidneys, liver and heart.
Preventive Care Key to a Healthy Mouth
According to Steve Holmstrom, DVM, DiplAVDC, president of the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS), without proper dental care, 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by the age of three. In fact, oral disease is today's number-one health problem diagnosed in dogs and cats.
Even better, however, is to prevent plaque and tartar formation in the first place. Just as in human dental programs, the place to start is with a dental examination and, if needed, a dental cleaning by a veterinarian.
Veterinarians also recommend regular, at-home care. Specially designed brushes and toothpastes (human brands cause canine or feline stomach upset) are available through veterinary clinics and pet stores.
The results of dental care are more than worthwhile. By reducing the risk of
periodontal disease, pets live longer. And by clearing the air on doggy and kitty breath, they're even more of a joy to have around.