Dental Care Is Key to Your Pet’s Health and Happiness

Updated: Jan 23

Dental disease is extremely common in pets: 85% of adult dogs and cats have some stage of it. By age 3, eight in 10 dogs and 7 in 10 cats are already showing signs. Small dogs are at higher risk for tartar formation, gum infection, and loss of teeth.

Dental disease is bad news. Left untreated, it can have serious, even life-threatening consequences.

Smile! Coco knows dentistry is one of our core services.

Oral bacteria from plaque and tartar enter the bloodstream and can damage your pet’s heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, and nervous system. The American Veterinary Medical Association, or AVMA, says untreated periodontal disease that becomes severe can even lead to death.

Plus, dental disease is painful. Pet parents never want their fur babies to suffer. That’s why we want you to know the truth about dental care. The good news is: You can prevent and manage periodontal disease with routine care and regular professional cleanings.

Dentistry 101

Dental chart stages 1 to 4 (top to bottom)

Just like with people, the health of your pet’s teeth both indicates and affects his or her health overall. There are four stages (or scores) of periodontal disease, in increasing seriousness and danger...

Stage 1: Gingivitis—inflamed gums but completely reversible!

Stage 2: early periodontis—sore gums and bad breath, but still reversible!

Stage 3: moderate periodontis—infected gums and pain, may be irreversible

Stage 4: advanced periodontis—chronic infection and major damage, irreversible

As periodontal disease progresses, your pet may suffer root abscesses, mouth ulcers, painful lesions, gum recession, and tooth loss. We clearly want to catch and treat periodontal disease well before it reaches stages 3 and 4, when the worst damage occurs and extractions and oral surgery are necessary.

Bad Breath: Not Just Stinky

Say no to stinky smooches! Bad breath is certainly unpleasant. It's also almost always the first and most noticeable sign of trouble. Animals are very good at hiding discomfort, even from the most dedicated pet parents. It’s time for a dental exam if your pet is ever…

  • Pawing at the mouth

  • Drooling excessively or unusually

  • Having trouble eating, such as obviously favoring one side of the mouth

  • Refusing to eat

  • Experiencing bloody saliva or nasal discharge

Some signs your pet needs to see the vet will be obvious. Red, swollen, or bleeding gums; loose, broken, or missing teeth; and mouth lesions all require medical attention. But lots of other serious, and gross, health issues can be traced back to the teeth.

Be Proactive

What can you do, as a dedicated pet parent, to keep your pet in good dental health? Plenty!

  • Get your pet's teeth examined. First things first: the dental exam. A routine wellness visit at Eno will include an assessment of your pet’s oral health and custom recommendations for care.

  • Keep an eye out. Between visits, take a peek at your pet’s teeth and gums regulary to monitor for anything strange.

  • Use your head—toothbrush head, that is. Not many pet parents brush their pets’ teeth, but even weekly care can make a difference. The earlier you start, the easier it will be to get into the brushing groove. We offer numerous products for pet dental care; never use human toothpaste.

Your pet’s diet can also play a central role in good dental health. We recommend several brands, backed by decades of scientific research and study, that help prevent plaque and tartar.

Why Dental Cleanings?

Before: Mitzi with a dental stage of 3

Dental cleanings are a crucial part of any wellness program! Just like in human dentistry, we expertly scale and polish each tooth and under the gum line, then apply a special sealant to protect your pet’s teeth from plaque.

The only difference: Pet dentistry is a full anesthetic procedure since we cannot clean your pet’s teeth when he or she is awake.

Annual cleanings, especially at dental disease stages 1 and 2, will help hold off much more serious and expensive problems in the future.

We are happy to discuss the details of dentistry! Call us for a consultation at (919) 471-0308. We want to help your pet live his or her best life, and dental care is a big part of that.

A note about cost: Since pets cannot be awake for dental work, pet dentistry is a full anesthetic procedure. This makes it more expensive than human dentistry. Yet dental work is invaluable to your pet's health. Preventative cleaning will actually save you money in the long run...not to mention keep your pet healthier!

Untreated dental disease will only get worse...which means your pet's pain and problems will only get worse. And by then dentistry will be that much more expensive.

Why Take Dental X-Rays?

After: What a difference for Mitzi!

Many serious dental problems lurk out of sight, under the gums or in the tooth roots. These issues cannot be assessed on physical examination only. And it doesn’t help your pet be healthy and whole to have sparkling teeth on the outside and painful problems on the inside.

That’s why we perform digital dental radiographs while dental patients are under anesthesia. Full-mouth radiographs reveal the true health of your pet’s mouth, teeth, and gums. You might be surprised by how many issues we discover on radiographs that are simply invisible to the naked eye!

Another reason dentistry is a full anesthetic procedure—we almost always find painful problems when we probe the gums and take x-rays. Cracked roots, abscesses, lesions, and pockets: Yuck and ouch.

Cats Need Dental Care, Too

Show off those pearly whites Frances!

Periodontal disease applies to cats just as much as dogs. In fact, cats are actually more susceptible to certain dental problems. Most cats show signs of periodontal disease by the time they are 3 years old. Without proper care, the condition will only get worse and more painful.

We promise: You can clean your cat’s teeth! We recommend a finger brush and seafood-flavored toothpaste. We also offer food and water additives, rinses, and gels.

Fresh breath, strong teeth and gums, a life without pain: Pet dental care is definitely worth it. Call us for more information at (919) 471-0308.


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