This February, Celebrate National Pet Dental Health Month

dental cleaningsYou know about the importance of visiting your dentist twice yearly for regular dental cleanings and checkups — but what about your pet? It’s something we don’t often think about, but our cats and dogs have very similar dental hygiene needs to us — but they aren’t able to brush or floss their own teeth. While the average cosmetic dentistry patient spends anywhere between $5,000 to $6,000 on improving their smiles, most people spend $0 on making sure their pets’ teeth are healthy.

As a result, a stunning 80% of dogs and 70% of cats will display signs of dental disease or decay before they reach three years old. And unlike people, pets are unable to take advantage of peroxide-based teeth whiteners, veneers or dental implants to help correct the effects of dental disease.

To help combat these statistics, the American Veterinary Dental Society has named the month of February National Pet Dental Health Month to help encourage pet owners to bring their cats and dogs to the veterinarian’s office for dental cleanings.

Here are three things you can do to help your pet’s dental hygiene throughout the month of February:

Feed your pet the right diet
Much like with our own dental health, our pets’ diets play a big role in how healthy their teeth are. The right pet food should help fight plaque and tartar build-up, not contribute to it. Be sure to give your cat or dog high-quality, additive-free pet food that’s right for his or her age, size and breed.

Regularly inspect your pet’s teeth
You can tell a lot about your pet’s dental health by simply looking at his or her teeth. Your pet should have white teeth, light-pink gums that aren’t swollen, and relatively fresh breath. Loose teeth, bumps on the tongue and discolored gums are all signs of concern.

Ask your pet’s veterinarian to perform regular dental cleanings and exams
You should already be bringing your cat or dog to the veterinarian twice a year. At these regular checkups, ask your veterinarian to give your pet a dental cleaning as well. This allows your pet to get a professional teeth cleaning and helps the veterinarian detect signs of disease or complications in your pet’s teeth.

Have any other questions for us on finding a dentist office, or about cosmetic dentistry? Get the conversation going — feel free to ask us anything by leaving a comment below!

What Are the Worst Foods for Your Dental Health?

dental cleaningsMany of us know that consuming too many sugary foods and beverages can lead to tooth decay, periodontal disease and a slew of other complications.

But there are other foods and drinks that aren’t necessarily sugar-laden, but still take a significant toll on your dental health and the appearance of your teeth. As a result, your diet might be harming your teeth without you even knowing it! With the popularity of teeth whitening procedures rising by more than 300% in the last five years, and 75% of people reporting feeling that an unattractive smile is harmful to one’s success, you can’t afford to let your diet have an adverse impact on your teeth.

Which foods should you be avoiding? To make sure your dental cleanings are quick, easy and cavity-free, the American Dental Association recommends that you avoid these foods — or enjoy them in moderation:

Hard candies
As stated before, too much exposure to sugary foods leaves your teeth highly vulnerable to decay. Because hard candies stay in your mouth for at least an hour before dissolving, they are able to do even more damage. And before you bite down on a hard candy, beware — biting down on hard foods like these can lead to emergencies like broken, chipped or fractured teeth.

Too many citrus fruits
Citrus fruits — lemons, limes and oranges — are all great dietary choices for the health-conscious dieter. They’re rich in vitamins and fiber, and are low in calories. Sadly, eating too much citrus throughout the day could be harmful. In addition to the high sugar content of citrus fruits, they’re also packed with citric acid — which eats away at your teeth’s natural protective layer of enamel. Enjoy citrus fruits in moderation, and drink plenty of water to offset their effects on your teeth.

Sticky foods
Sticky foods don’t just include taffy and other candies — dried fruit can also stick to teeth, exposing them to sugar longer. When snacking on trail mix or dried fruits like raisins and cranberries, be sure to drink lots of water in addition to frequently brushing and flossing your teeth. Your dentist will appreciate your efforts at your subsequent dental cleanings!

Ice
This one isn’t really a food — but many people have a habit of chewing on ice. It’s a habit that jeopardizes your teeth every time you bite down. Chewing on ice damages the enamel of your teeth, and can even break or chip your teeth in certain cases. If you can’t break your ice habit, simply suck on an ice cube — no chewing! — or drink some chilled water.

Have any other questions or comments for us on how to find a local dentist office or what to expect during dental exams and dental cleanings? Share all your thoughts with us in the comments below.