You know your pet’s annual wellness visits are important because preventive care, like vaccinations and screening tests, keeps them healthy. But, did you know that your pet’s oral health and routine preventive care are equally important for their overall health? Read on for five reasons why focusing on your pet’s dental care is so important.

#1: Dental care prevents oral pain and infection

Have you ever had a toothache or needed a root canal? The excruciating pain from a damaged or diseased tooth can make you feel generally miserable, and make eating especially difficult. Your pet with dental disease feels the same way, but they are experts at hiding pain, and you may not realize they have a problem until they lose teeth or develop a tooth-root abscess that appears as a bump on their muzzle below their eye.

Because pets are skilled at hiding pain and illness, they may suffer in silence for far too long before receiving appropriate dental care. Prevent unnecessary pain and infection by providing regular at-home and veterinary dental care for your furry pal.

#2: Dental care prevents the spread of oral bacteria

When your pet eats, food debris gets trapped between their teeth and under their gums and creates the perfect feeding ground for oral bacteria. In only a few hours, a sticky biofilm of debris and bacteria (i.e., plaque) coats your pet’s teeth. Twenty-four hours later, plaque has mineralized into rock-hard tartar. The oral bacteria irritate and inflame the gums, and then access the bloodstream through the weakened gingival tissue. Once bacteria have infiltrated your pet’s vascular system, they can cause systemic infection or attack vital organs, causing heart disease and damaging the liver and kidneys. But, if you brush your pet’s teeth daily, use dental health products regularly, and ensure your pet has at least annual dental cleanings, you can greatly reduce the bacterial load in your pet’s mouth, and protect the rest of their body.

#3: Dental care helps support your pet’s appetite

Your pet is not likely to eat if they don’t feel well, and dental disease makes your pet feel ill, and loose teeth, inflamed gums, and gingival pockets of infection can cause severe pain. Pets with dental disease often refuse to eat dry food or hard treats, and some may have such severe disease that they shun anything but the liquid off pâté-type canned foods. If your pet has another health issue that causes nausea, vomiting, or inappetence (e.g., kidney disease), their dental disease can cause their appetite to plummet. Ensure your pet receives all the nutrition they need by supporting their appetite through regular dental care.

#4: Dental care prevents tooth loss

Although cats and dogs without teeth can eat well—and even devour dry food—tooth loss through infection, decay, or damage is painful, but preventable. By brushing your pet’s teeth daily—or a minimum three times a week—you can check for loose teeth while scrubbing away disease-causing bacteria. About 60% of the tooth lies below the gum line, where a toothbrush cannot reach, so professional dental cleanings are essential to prevent tooth loss. Without regular dental cleanings, oral bacteria overwhelm the teeth’s supporting structures, causing damage and infection, and teeth whose support has weakened will loosen and fall out. Despite the missing tooth, infection in the gum tissue, periodontal ligament, bone, and surrounding structures can linger, causing your pet continual pain. Fortunately, appropriate dental care can keep tooth structures strong and healthy and prevent tooth loss and infection.

#5: Regular dental care saves you money

Pet care costs add up over a pet’s lifetime, and extensive oral surgery comes with a hefty bill. Preventive medicine is the best medicine for your pet’s health and happiness—and the best for your wallet. With dental disease, prophylactic cleanings performed before your pet develops significant disease are much easier on your furry pal and your budget. 

As partners in your pet’s oral health care, rely on our Stack Veterinary Hospital team for top-notch dental care for your pet through regular oral exams and dental cleanings. Give us a call to schedule your pet’s next dental care service.