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Dental Care

By November 15, 2013 April 18th, 2019 PETCARE Blog

Pets are people too!

To maintain their good health they require routine dental care. Without proper dental care a pet will endure years of progressive gingivitis, periodontal disease, and pain. Eventually, teeth will be lost. Periodontal disease is thought to be a significant cause of diseases of the internal organs in older pets and can cut years off of your pet’s life! Dentistry is NOT just “cosmetics”, it is part of a healthy life!

Hard foods and chew toys are not very effective at cleaning teeth, contrary to popular opinion. You probably would be a little skeptical of a claim that “you can eat shredded wheat every day and it will clean your teeth”, wouldn’t you?

One product that we have found that consistently seems to help keep teeth cleaner is CET Chews. This is a rawhide product impregnated with enzymes that can help to reduce plaque build-up and gingivitis. CET Chews are available for both dogs of all sizes and for cats.

Many dogs and cats should have their teeth cleaned and polished in the hospital at least once every year, beginning at age two.

Every pet is different -some need routine dental care before one year of age, others only later in their lives. Our veterinarians can advise you on how often your pet will need to have their teeth cleaned.

Older pets should not have bad teeth and bad breath. Gingivitis, periodontal disease, and the resulting bad breath are serious but preventable diseases that no pet should have to suffer from.


A proper dental cleaning is an involved procedure that requires 12 hours in the hospital. A physical examination, pre-anesthetic blood screens, IV fluids and general anesthesia are all required to properly clean and polish your pet’s teeth safely. While there is always a slight risk with any general anesthesia, dentistry is extremely safe when properly performed.

Dentistry is a medical field that requires extensive knowledge of anatomy, different oral diseases, medications, and anesthesia. Owners, groomers, and other untrained personnel are likely to cause great harm if they attempt to scrape teeth clean at home. We do not recommend this!


Sometimes dogs have a problem with their baby teeth not falling out when they are supposed to (by 6 months of age). This will push the permanent teeth out of alignment. This will also cause tooth crowding, excessive tartar build­ up and gingivitis. These problems can lead to early periodontal disease and tooth loss. If your pet has retained baby teeth, those baby teeth need to be removed under a general anesthetic as soon as possible.

Please speak to a doctor or a nurse at PETCARE ANIMAL HOSPITAL about scheduling this procedure (801-302-9061).


Home care can slow the progress of any oral diseases, but will not eliminate any current problems. “Holding your pet down and scrubbing her teeth” is not going to help reduce any current dental disease. Home care should consist of gently brushing your pet’s teeth with soft-bristle toothbrushes, special pet toothpaste, and using special oral rinses on a routine basis before problems develop.

Pets should have their teeth brushed daily from a very early age whenever possible. Although some older pets do not tolerate brushing, many do well when the owners spend a few minutes a day working with their pet (patience! ).

Initially you should work with your pet 5-10 minutes each day. For the first few weeks, get your pet used to having his or her lips, gums, and teeth touched, massaged, and played with. It is also a good idea to get your pet used to having their face, ears, and feet touched so that they tolerate nail trimming, ear cleaning etc.

After your pet has come to enjoy this (make it a game!), it is time to move on to rubbing the gum-line with a soft cloth or washcloth. Do this a few minutes a day for several weeks and then begin using a pet toothpaste on the cloth. When your pet is entirely comfortable with this, you are finally ready to use a toothbrush.

A soft-bristle pediatric toothbrush or special pet toothbrush is ideal for brushing your pet’s teeth. Use it in the same manner as you do for your own teeth (angle the bristles towards the gum-line). Brush your pet’s teeth for at least 2 minutes each and every day.

For pets that do not tolerate brushing, oral rinses such as Maxi-Guard Gel or Maxi-Guard Spray are often useful in slowing the progress of gingivitis. Ask our staff for more information!

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