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Dental Care: Tips for taking care of your pet's teeth

Good dental health is a lifelong process

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Puppies and kittens lose their "baby" teeth in the first year. Getting your pet used to having their mouth examined and teeth brushed is a good start to healthy teeth and gums. As pets age, dental tartar and plaque may affect not only the teeth, but gums, heart and internal organs as well. Here are some dental health resources to keep your pet healthy.

1. Veterinary Q & A: Dental Care For Pets

Open up and say Ahhhh! Photo credit: sarah m scott on Flickr.
© sarah m scott on Flickr.
Keeping your pet's teeth and gums in good shape has many health benefits in addition to the sparkling fresh breath. Here are answers to several common pet dental health questions.

2. Tips For Recognizing Dental Disease In Dogs And Cats

Dog Teeth
José Carlos Cortizo Pérez on Flickr
Dental disease is not simply suffering from "bad breath" -- infections of the gums, teeth, and oral cavity can spread via the bloodstream to the heart and liver, possibly causing additional health problems. Dogs and cats may express dental pain and disease in many ways. Here is a list of common signs and behaviors seen with diseases of the teeth and gums.

3. When Do Puppies and Kittens Lose Their Baby Teeth?

Kitten Yawn! Image credit: Werwin15 on Flickr
Image credit: Werwin15 on Flickr
Just like human children, puppies and kittens lose their baby teeth. These teeth are also called "milk teeth" or in medical terms, deciduous teeth. Whatever the name, the process is the same. Learn more about this process and what to expect as your puppy or kitten grows.

4. My 8 month old puppy has two sets of "fangs" on top - is this a problem?

Retained deciduous (baby) tooth in a dog - credit: Janet Tobiassen DVM
© Janet Tobiassen DVM
Like humans, dogs and cats have baby (deciduous) teeth that are replaced by permanent teeth as they mature. In some cases, the animal will gain the permanent tooth but fail to lose the baby tooth, resulting in what is termed a "retained deciduous tooth". Find out what to do about this condition in this FAQ.

5. Gallery: Tooth Extraction in a Dog

4th Pre-Molar Slab Fracture Removal © Janet Tobiassen Crosby DVM
© Janet Tobiassen Crosby DVM
The 4th premolar tooth (also known as the Carnassial tooth) is the largest tooth in the dog's mouth. It is located midway between the nose and the angle of the jaw. This is the main "chomping" tooth used for grinding up food. Dogs that like to chew may fracture the exterior part of this tooth, known as a slab fracture.

This is a step-by-step look at the removal of a fractured, tartar-covered 4th premolar tooth in a 4.5 year old Corgi.

6. My senior cat has become a sloppy eater - why?

Are looking at me? © dogbomb on Flickr
© dogbomb on Flickr
A viewer asks: "We have an 18 year old cat that has recently developed an unusual behavior after eating which is becoming a problem. After he finishes eating, he will sit up, tilt his head to the side, and work his jaws and tongue as if he is trying to dislodge a piece of food caught in his teeth. He’ll continue this for about a minute or so, leaving big drops of saliva and food on the floor around his bowl. Any suggestions?" Read the answer in this FAQ.

7. Top 8 Care Tips for after your pet's dental

Rose - the look of trust by Janet Tobiassen Crosby DVM
by Janet Tobiassen Crosby DVM
Most veterinarians send home printed handouts after an anesthetic procedure detailing the pet's post-procedure care. This is helpful because in the busy discharge time of most clinics, coupled with excitement at seeing their pet, many owners don't hear all of the details or think of questions until after they are home. This article discusses general post-procedure care. Please call your veterinarian with specific questions about your pet's recovery.

8. Glossary Term: Dental Plaque

Plaque is a soft deposit on the teeth. This deposit consists of large amounts of bacteria with additional particles of foods, proteins, and cellular debris in the deposit. Learn more about the dangers of the this bacterial buildup in this glossary entry.

9. Glossary Term: Dental Calculus or Tartar

Tartar is a hard, yellowish deposit on teeth. It is composed of mineral salts, food, and other debris that has hardened over time. Tartar cannot be brushed off.

10. Is anesthesia necessary to do a dental cleaning on my pet?

Home care (brushing) does not require anesthesia, and is definitely a part of good oral health for your pet. In addition to home care, your vet may recommend a professional cleaning if your pet has bad breath or related problems. Learn what is involved with a veterinary dental and why general anesthesia is necessary in this FAQ.
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