Dirty teeth shorten your pet’s life
Yes – it really is that simple. When your pets get tartar on their teeth, there are bacteria trapped in and around the teeth under the gum line. This is a chronic infection in your pet’s mouth, and that is a BIG problem. The infection causes inflammation, which damages the teeth, the gums, and the whole body. This causes gingivitis and periodontal disease.
Toxins and bacteria then continually leak into the bloodstream, causing chronic inflammation, damage to organs (especially the heart, liver + kidneys). It makes diabetes worse (and harder to treat). It upsets your dog”s immune system, possibly worsening any other issues like allergies, autoimmune disease etc.
Because dogs and cats hide pain so well (and because a lot of people never look inside their pet’s mouth), it can be all too easy to miss even quite severe dental disease. All too often when I examine a pet, I can smell that they have a rotten mouth before I even examine them. Nearly always, the owners have no idea there is a problem until the mouth is really, really rotten. And even then a lot of people don’t think that it’s a serious problem.
Prevention is the best cure
The best way to prevent dental disease is with size appropriate raw bones. Never weight-bearing bones, and always raw. For very small dogs, chicken wings. then you can move through turkey necks, lamb or roo rib flaps, roo tails, brisket bones, and cow rib bones as you move to bigger pets. You should give bones as a meal (that’s the dinner!) 2-3 times each week.
Brushing teeth is generally not so helpful. Don’t use chew toys or artificial/man-made chews like greenies. Some kibble brands claim that they help clean teeth. Don’t believe that marketing malarkey! Carnivorous teeth are made to be cleaned by eating meat and bone.
And it has to be big enough chunks that the animals really have to chew bits off to be able to swallow them. Dog and cat teeth are designed to shear their food into chunks small enough to fit down their gullet. They don’t grind up their food by chewing as humans do. The action of chewing and shearing is what cleans the teeth and keeps them clean.
You will get some dogs and cats who even with appropriate bones will still develop tartar. Animals like this will need to have a regular dental under general anaesthetic in your chosen vet hospital. More about dentals in a moment.
What to do if your pet has dirty teeth
The simple answer is that your pet is going to need a dental under general anaesthetic. I strongly, strongly recommend this step even if your pet is ancient. The risk is necessary from a quality of life perspective (and the risk from anaesthetic is low, even in older animals). Dental disease is not only bad for health in multiple ways, it is also very painful, especially when you have a rotten, stinky mouth. I have had to extract more than ten teeth in some cases!
And DON’T ever have a non-anaesthetic dental. No matter what they claim, you cannot clean below the gum line with an awake animal – and what’s more, it’s painful and stressful. A GA is the only way to go if you want to effective dental care for your pets.
The other very important thing your pets will have with their dental is a set of dental x-rays. There can be cracks in teeth that are not visible to the naked eye, and can cause (extremely painful) tooth root abscesses. The ONLY way to be 100% certain that your pets are not experiencing dental pain is to have a full dental (with x-rays beforehand) under a general anaesthetic.
Then, once the teeth are clean, you can keep them clean with appropriate raw bones.
Healthy mouth = healthy life!
I know, a GA may not seem ‘holistic’. But a holistic approach considers (and is open to) all options – including the allopathic ones. The simple truth is that a proper dental with x-rays under a GA is absolutely necessary for great dental health and should be done regularly. My recommendation is yearly. If you don’t do this yearly, your pets are at risk of dental disease, and may be suffering ill health and pain as a result.
Any amount of tartar is bad, because there will always be inflammation and infection under the gum line. You should never wait any longer than you have to to get a dental done if there are issues.
Make it a habit to have a really good look inside your pet’s mouth at least once a month. Get a powerful pen torch, peer in, check for tartar, inflammation, and especially cracked or broken teeth. Start young, so your animals are used to it.
Now of course, the more holistically you care for your pets, the better their diet, and the better you care for and love yourself, the less likely it is that you’ll have problems with your pet’s teeth. The stronger your pet’s genetics are to start with, the better.