We humans know that brushing our teeth daily is important. The same holds true for our pets. Periodontal disease if left untreated, can lead to the loss of teeth and degeneration of the surrounding bone. But worse than that, can actually cause other serious health problems and general inflammation from bacteria. Fortunately, if treated early and regularly, the condition is reversible.

February is National Pet Dental Health month and most San Diego veterinary offices offer discounts on veterinary prophylactic cleaning during February and some extend beyond. But how to keep your pet's teeth clean between professional cleaning?

Most dogs love to chew but chewing on hard bones or toys can actually fracture your dogs teeth and require extractions. But if your enthusiastic chewer stops chewing, she may have dental or mouth issues. Dogs with sore mouths and teeth may not eat as well, leading to a weakened immune system. Your sweet pet may become aggressive or irritated from having a painful mouth.

It is important to check your pet's teeth often. Regular tooth brushing is the most effective way for removing plaque. Tooth brushing should be started early in life to learn to accept dental exams and brushing. You can start using just your finger, then move on to a finger brush, then slowly introduce a pet toothbrush. For small dogs, where a toothbrush may be too large, even a wipe down of their gums and teeth with a medicated dental rinse or gel daily can reduce plaque and freshen breath. Many groomers will add teeth brushing to a regular grooming visit.

There are many great products to help you keep your dog's teeth clean: rinses, sprays, wipes, medicated chews and pet flavored toothpaste. Dental enzyme products can help break down the plaque often dissolving it or making it easier to remove during brushing.

Another important part of your dog’s dental health is regular veterinary exams. Your vet can determine when it has become necessary to perform a prophylactic cleaning and oral medical intervention for your pet. Exams can also identify broken teeth or dangerous mouth lesions. Most veterinary offices offer prophylactic tooth cleaning, dental X-rays, and even more technical dental procedures.

Many San Diego pet owners prefer anesthesia free dental cleaning as a lower cost alternative. These are required to be done by a veteranarian present but should be used with caution to make sure that your pet is only in the early stages of plaque buildup.  Scaling teeth without polishing or going under the gum line can present a false sense of security and actually lead  to increased plaque buildup in scaled areas.

Today’s anesthetics are increasingly safe for pets and will insure that your pet is comfortable while getting the most thorough cleaning. Anesthesia free dental vets will alert you if your pet is too progressed to be done without a full dental scaling and will refer you to a dental provider. Keep in mind that many anesthesia free treatments are not much less cost than a regular veteranarian cleaning particularly during February.

So make oral examination and tooth brushing a regular part of your dog’s daily routine Check our events calendar for our next scheduled Anesthesia free teeth cleaning clinic.