Dental care for pets is not an issue that pet owners tend to think of as important to proper pet health.

Many pet owner’s ignore, or are ignorant of their pet’s dental care needs. When pet owners ignore the dental care of their pets, their pet can end up losing teeth, living in pain, or, worse, having to have teeth or tumors surgically removed.

Periodontal disease, commonly known as gum disease, can occur in both dogs and cats starting when they are six months old. Gum disease starts with plaque build-up on the teeth. Often times you will notice your pet has bad breath, brownish colored build-up on teeth, and dark red gums along the gumline. The plaque contains bacteria that release toxins into the gums, causing redness and inflammation along the gumline. Your pet’s body then will send white blood cells to the area to counteract the bacteria. This causes two problems. First, the enzymes released destroy the bacteria, but also destroy the bone around the tooth. Second, the inflammation in the area allows bacteria to enter the bloodstream and gain access to other parts of the body and the vital organs.

The bacteria can cause serious damage to your pet’s organs. Though your pet’s liver and kidney can filter out the bacteria, this causes a slow deterioration of the organs over time. It has also been found that the bacteria can cause harm to your pet’s brain and heart.

There are a wide range of dental diseases pet’s can develop without proper dental care.. This list includes:

* Broken Teeth – Occurs when a tooth is fractured or broken and can lead to serious illness (affecting the vital organs) and bacterial infection.
* Cavities – Are not as prominent in pets as in humans, but do occur in pets.
* Enamel Hypoplasia – Arises when tooth enamel does not cover the whole tooth; these teeth are weaker, and easily damaged.
* Oral Tumors – Can be malignant or benign, but all should be tested to determine the kind of tumor and what action should be taken.

Good dental health will not only make for a happier, healthier pet, but will result in reduced veterinary bills for the pet owner. Good oral health practices including tooth brushing, dental chew treats and bones, dental rinses and mouth washes and proper diet will keep your pet functioning at his best.