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February is National Dental Health Month

What's one of the first things you do every morning? Brush your teeth, of course. Most of us can't imagine missing a day of dental care. Yet the same diligence does not hold true for many pets in the United States.

You can protect your pet from dental disease, not to mention bad breath, by effectively brushing his teeth for only 1 or 2 minutes at least two or three times a week; daily brushing is best,CKVC_dog_dental_care.jpg if possible. All you need is a little patience and the right accessories to get the job done smoothly. Besides using the right accessories, it's important to start brushing your pet's teeth early. The sooner you start a home dental routine, the easier it will be for your pet to adjust to the process. And although it is best to begin brushing your pet's teeth when he is a puppy or kitten, it is never too late to start.

Dental care is an important and simple way to prevent disease in your cat or dog. This small commitment can make a big difference to your pet's well-being. The two key components in your dental arsenal are your pet's toothbrush and toothpaste.  Toohtbrushes designed specifically for pets are available, and are typically smaller and shaped to fit a pet's mouth easily and comfortably.  Another option is a child's toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head.  With regard to toothpastes, those made for people contain ingredients that are not appropriate for pets. Always use toothpastes made especially for pets. Pet toothpastes are specially formulated not only to taste great but also to be safe for pets to swallow. In general it is helpful for pet owners to ask their veterinarian's advice on the best dental products for their pet.

Periodontal disease is prevalent in pets and can lead to tooth and bone loss and can also lead toCKVC_Proof_Vet_Sol_Oral_Rinse.jpg other health problems such as bacteria affecting the heart and kidneys, compromising their ability to function normally. Along with routine brushing there are a number of products available to help you improve your pet's oral health.  These also might be helpful for pets who are more resistant to routine brushing, and include oral rinses, water additives, and dental chews.

As part of human dental care we receive periodic oral x-rays (radiographs) that help our dentist diagnose potential or ongoing oral health issues beneath the gumline, such as decay, bone loss, and tooth root problems.  Your veterinarian may recommend dental radiographs to help them identify any potential or current problems with your pet.  This is the best tool available to assist your veterinarian is assessing your pet's overall oral health.

Some pets may still require periodic professional cleaning and polishing as a preventive treamtment, or even require cleaning and other dental services for oral health problems. Your veterinarian can assess your pet's oral health, offer guidance on when a dental cleaning is needed, and make recommendations for good oral care for your pet.