The Importance of Canine/Feline Dental Care
By Dr. Audra MacCorkle, Wellness Director - Beverly Hills
Fresh breath, pearly whites, happy and healthy pets – dental health is so important for overall health and wellness of our fur family members. The bacteria that adhere to the tooth base and under the gum line in small pockets from gingival recession have direct access to the blood stream, and, just as with human medicine, dental disease and gingivitis can lead to serious medical issues for our pets with the heart, kidneys, liver, urinary tract, and immune system. Basically, the overall health of the body can be viewed by looking at an individuals, and fur family members, dental health.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), dental disease (calculus & gingivitis), is often associated with a damp heat build up in the body or a Qi (energy) stagnation for at least one of a variety of reasons. In Southern California, we are living in a desert which is very Yang in general, so most people and animals find themselves to be Yin or Blood deficient. When you lose the smooth flowing watery component of the saliva it gets sticky and has more tendency to stick to the teeth and build up calculus. Combine this environment with a dry kibble type food and many animals need their teeth scaled as often as once or twice a month. The required frequency of dental scaling completely depends on the individuals’ health status. My rule is if you see build up, you are already behind the ball and definitely need a cleaning. I say this because after many years of doing non-anesthetic dental cleanings, I know that there is likely a lot of soft plague in the pockets and around the gum line even in animals where no calculus build up can be seen with the naked eye. This sticky soft plaque is just as dangerous for the animals’ immune systems and overall health.
So, how often should your pet have a dental cleaning? Depending upon overall wellness, I recommend dental cleanings from twice monthly to once a year. Don’t be shy, check with your vet to determine the care program that suits your pet best. And, open wide at home, guardians can also apply a natural waxy sealant at the gum line following dental cleanings and/or brush on a plague preventative product daily, such as Healthy Mouth, in between cleanings in order to prevent or delay buildup. Everything animal guardians can do to slow down the buildup of plague and calculus including daily brushing, which I recognize is not practical for many families, will help with overall wellness.
I encourage you to take a moment now to lift up your dogs’ and cats’ lips and take a look at the back molars on BOTH sides, top and bottom, and tell me what you see.