Oral Health Healthy Pets Through Every Stage of Life

Oral Health

All dogs and cats can benefit from oral health care and a healthy mouth. Oral disease is the most common, most frequently diagnosed, and most-recognized health problem in pets. By the time they are 3 years old, 85% of dogs and cats have periodontal disease. (Learn more about periodontal disease). Untreated oral disease can lead to serious consequences, including pain, tooth loss and chronic infection spreading to other major organs such as the liver or kidneys.

Oral health care should begin in puppies and kittens. Plaque starts forming on teeth soon after they erupt in the mouth. Plaque is a transparent fluid composed of mucus, food material, cells, and bacteria that adheres to the teeth. Its formation is the beginning of periodontal disease. If it is not removed, minerals in the food will turn plaque into hard dental calculus. Plaque and calculus are irritating to gum tissue, causing gingivitis. Gingivitis involves the gums but not the underlying bone and ligaments. This inflammation allows disease causing bacteria to grow under the gum line. The byproducts of these bacteria and the inflammatory products from the body eat away at the supporting structures and bone that secure the teeth. As periodontal disease progresses, teeth will be lost.

Periodontal disease is not only the most common health problem in cats and dogs; it is also largely hidden from view below the gum line. The only way to accurately assess and treat periodontal disease is by anesthetizing the patient to allow for a thorough and detailed examination, including probing around each tooth and intra-oral dental radiography.

We brush our teeth, floss and use mouthwash to decrease the plaque and bacteria in our mouths.

The main reason we go to the dentist regularly, every 6 months, is for prevention. The goal is to prevent tooth decay, periodontal disease, and other disorders that put the health of your teeth and mouth at risk. Even with routine care, 60% of 15-year-old children experience gingivitis.

The same dental health care is required to control periodontal disease in our pets. The following steps and products aid in the control periodontal disease:

  1. Daily brushing is the best way to protect your pet's oral health. Proper brushing removes plaque above and below the gum line. It also stimulates the gums, which helps to keep them healthy and prevent gum disease. The best pet toothpastes contain enzymes to help control plaque. C.E.T.® Enzymatic Toothpaste has a proven dual-enzyme system formulated for dogs and cats which provides natural antibacterial action.
  2. A once weekly application of OraVet® can be also used to significantly reduce plaque and calculus formation. OraVet® is a scientifically proven plaque prevention gel that is compatible with tooth brushing, dental diets, dental chews and many other dental care products. It can also be used when brushing cannot be done as frequently as desired.
  3. In addition to brushing, the addition of C.E.T.® Aquadent, a clinically proven product, can be added to your pet's drinking water to fight plaque with every drink. Another layer of protection.
  4. The daily use of clinically tested dental chews, for example C.E.T.® HEXtra Premium Chews, C.E.T.® VeggieDent and C.E.T.® Oral Hygiene Chews for Cats, also helps prevent tartar and plaque buildup.
  5. For animals prone to rapid tartar buildup or when brushing is not able to be done, clinically proven prescription dental diets are designed to reduce the accumulation of dental plaque and tartar while providing a complete and balanced diet. For example Royal Canin Veterinary Diet®DD is a dental diet formulated with a nutrient that reduces plaque buildup, includes sodium tripolyphosphate to reduce dental tartar formation, and has a kibble texture and shape that provides a brushing effect during chewing.
  6. Regular professional teeth cleaning and oral health care is essential. No other procedure performed on pets does more to help them than periodic teeth cleaning and after care. The time between oral exams and oral health procedures is based on the ability to provide home care and the degree of periodontal disease.

Too frequently professional oral health procedures with dental cleaning are declined when periodontal disease is early and reversible. If considered only once significant and irreversible periodontal disease has already developed, the treatment can be expensive. The main reason we go to the dentist is for prevention, the same should be the case for our pets. It is always better to prevent periodontal disease and the associated pain, loose teeth and infection.


Cornell University presents an instructional video on how to brush your cat's teeth as a vital component in controlling periodontal disease and improving your cat's overall health. The techniques in this video are also beneficial to dog owners too!






The above articles are about dental home care advice and disease explanations by Dr. Fraser Hale, a board certified veterinary dental specialist.


A website devoted to oral health care. The gold standard of oral healthcare begins with the oral assessment. The initial assessment occurs in the exam room and continues with tooth-by-tooth examination under anesthesia, including intraoral radiology, to ensure that no oral problems go untreated. Upon completion of the assessment, all teeth are individually cleaned, polished, probed, and any abnormalities and specific diseases are addressed. The development of a preventative plan involving home oral care and follow-up oral health visits is critical for long term oral health.


Dr. Jan Bellows is a Diplomate of the American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC), a veterinarian who has been certified by AVDC as having demonstrated specialist knowledge and expertise in veterinary dentistry and having successfully passed the AVDC examination. He developed this informative website for pet owners to learn about oral health and dental care.


Dr. Dale Kressin is also a Diplomate of the American Veterinary Dental College. His specialty practice website also provides oral health care information for pet owners.


Virbac U.S. has been an industry leader in the scientific research, development and manufacture of quality, proven pet pharmaceutical products. The C.E.T. Oral Hygiene line of products from Virbac provides a wide variety of options for home oral care.


"OraVet® is the first plaque prevention system. It significantly reduces plaque and tartar formation by creating an invisible barrier that helps prevent bacteria from attaching to your pet's teeth." OraVet® is made by Merial, a world-leading animal health company.


Nutrition and diet information is provided for your dog and cat, sponsored by Royal Canin. ROYAL CANIN Veterinary Diet® canine DENTAL DS™ 23 SMALL BREED, canine DENTAL DD for dogs weighing more than 22 pounds, and feline DENTAL DD 27 are designed to reduce the accumulation of dental plaque and calculus

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