Puppy Braces and Cat Toothpaste: What You Might Not Know About Your Pet’s Smile

Our smiles are important, and that’s why we take care of them by brushing and flossing our teeth and visiting the dentist regularly. But what about our pet’s teeth? Pets are supposed to have bad breath, right? Wrong!

I recently sat in on a presentation the veterinary technology students in the Applications of Veterinary Clinical Skills class did on dental care for companion

pet dental

Canine dental model

pets. The students shared information on the importance of oral health, home care, and regular veterinary dental exams for our furry friends. They also talked about some of the common dental conditions that afflict dogs and cats and how these conditions can be treated.

So what did I learn? I learned a lot about some scary dental conditions, but more importantly, I learned how truly vital it is to take care of your pet’s teeth now, rather than later.

There is bad breath, and there is BAD breath. Of course your dog or cat’s breath isn’t going to be minty fresh all of the time, but if their breath begins to smell even worse than normal, there could be a problem. Contact your veterinarian.

Pets need their teeth brushed too! Yes, it might sound funny, but your pet needs your help to stay healthy and part of keeping them healthy is keeping their smile healthy too. They need their teeth brushed regularly. There is special dog and cat toothpaste and some other special tools pet owners can use to get the job done, but making it a routine is the first step to keeping your pet healthy.

Pets visit the “dentist” too. Just like they need their teeth brushed, pets also need regular “dentals” or teeth cleanings at the vet clinic. Even when a pet


Marie O’Dell explains malocclusion.

owner takes great care of their pet’s teeth and regularly brushes them, they may still need to have a dental cleaning at the vet’s office. This can help remove any calculus and they may need other dental work done, such as a tooth pulled or a tooth fixed. Calculus is the stuff that plaque hardens into. Plaque is that thin white film on your pet’s teeth, and if it isn’t removed within 24 hours, it hardens into calculus. Your vet and vet techs scale the calculus off the teeth and assess for deep pockets as well as take X-rays to ensure there are not problems lurking under the gum line. There is even such a thing as “puppy braces” to help redirect teeth that are growing in the wrong way.

Improper pet dental care can lead to other health problems. Periodontal disease affects the heart, kidneys, liver and other organs due to the chronic bacteria circulating in the blood stream. It’s important to take care of your pet’s teeth now and regularly visit the vet to ensure they don’t get periodontal disease.

Veterinary technician student Destiny Clements said, “This project really helped me learn more about why dental care is important and why it should be taken seriously to prevent dental disease which can lead to other health problems including heart, liver and kidney problems.”