Pet Dental Health

By Dr. Klint Hockenberry

Did you know that the mouth is the beginning of the digestive system? Teeth and saliva begin the processing of food to make sure nutrients are able to be absorbed by the body. The teeth are responsible for grasping, cutting and crushing food. Good dental hygiene extends your pet’s longevity and quality of life. Conditions such as tartar, gingivitis, and gum recession can lead to pain, bad breath, tooth loss, liver and heart disease.

Dental care begins at home. Three options for at home care, from most to least effective, are brushing, special dental foods, and dental treats. Although there are many dental sprays and water additives on the market these are at best minimally effective, at worst not effective at all. Any toothpaste, food, or treat bought for dental purposes should have the VOHC Approved label. Go to for a list of such products. Buyer beware: just because it says “dental” on the label does not mean it is. Unfortunately, due to under-regulation of the pet food/treat industry companies are able to make misleading claims. Look for the VOHC Approved label!

Each year, or semi-annually, at your pet’s check-up the Doctors at Neffsville will evaluate your pet’s teeth and supporting structures (periodontium). If only tartar buildup exists, at home measures will be discussed. If gingivitis or gum recession exists, the disease has extended below the gum line and a complete oral health assessment and treatment (COHAT) under anesthesia will need to be performed in hospital. The Doctors at Neffsville will discuss the procedure and provide an estimate.

Stay tuned in February for further blogs regarding what goes into a COHAT.

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