Three ways to keep your dog's mouth healthy and spend less money on dental cleanings.
We all know that we should brush our teeth at least twice a day and many of us have been scolded by our dentist when we forget to floss. It is also recommended that we have a professional cleaning performed at least once a year. Why then are we so surprised when the veterinarian lifts our pet's lips to reveal a foul-smelling mouth full of tartar-packed teeth and red, angry gums?
Dental disease causes more problems than most of us realize. When tartar builds up on the teeth it traps bacteria in the gums. This bacteria eventually finds its way into the blood where it has been linked to heart disease, kidney disease and other illness. In addition to the spread of bacteria through the blood, dental disease causes pain, bleeding and abscesses in the mouth.
Dental cleanings by a veterinarian are the only way to remove the damage that exists, but fortunately they can be limited and sometimes avoided completely with at-home dental care.
The following are industry guidelines for keeping your pets mouth healthy before and between dental cleanings:
The Veterinary Oral Health Council is for dental products what the NASC is for supplements. Basically, a team of veterinary dental professionals came together and decided too many products were being marketed toward dental health that didn't actually do anything for the teeth and gums. The VOHC is now a governing body that guarantees any product carrying their "seal of approval" meets its claims for tartar and plaque reduction. As with supplements not all products without the seal are necessarily garbage, but you should always ask your vet or look for the seal when in doubt. More information on VOHC can be found here. Also, this is a link to a list all of the VOHC approved products.