Did you know that an estimated 85% of all pets have periodontal disease by the time they are 3 years of age? The dental tartar you see slowly building up on your pet’s teeth is about 80% bacteria, and that not only damages your pet’s gums, but the bones and the ligaments that hold their teeth in place. Still, 95% of pet owners don’t regularly brush their pet’s teeth.

During a dental cleaning, plaque and tartar are removed from your pet’s teeth, and the health of the entire mouth is assessed. A thorough dental cleaning is usually only accomplished while your pet is under general anesthesia, because of which, the procedure is more costly than your pet’s general checkup. If you are on the fence about scheduling your pet an annual dental cleaning, consider these five reasons:

1. Pets don’t naturally have horrible breath

Let’s start off by busting one of the ever-so-common myths: Even though your cat or dog’s food smells rancid, their breath should not smell bad. If your pet’s breath smells like something is rotting in his mouth, the odds are that he has an infection or tooth decay.

2. Dental disease is very painful

Have you ever had an abscessed tooth or serious gum disease? If so, you know it hurts! It hurts pets, too, but our furry friends are masters at hiding their pain. It’s an ingrained and instinctive survival technique. The only indication you may have of your pet’s pain is a change in their temperament. Even with sore teeth and gums, a cat or dog will still eat, because hunger trumps pain (until the pain gets too severe, that is).

3. Dental disease doesn’t just stay in your pet’s mouth

An infection that begins as gingivitis can progress to the point where your pet develops infections in the bones, lungs, and even the bloodstream itself. The cost of treating a life-threatening systemic infection is a lot higher than the cost of an annual cleaning.

4. Dental disease can complicate other diseases

Diabetic pets with dental disease, for example, suffer more than others because chronic oral infections make it difficult to keep blood sugar levels under control.

5. Dental disease can lead to other diseases

Research has shown that dental disease increases the risk of diabetes, infections of the heart and lungs, kidney disease, autoimmune diseases, arthritis, heart failure and even cancer. If you’re not willing to brush your pet’s teeth every day, a professional dental cleaning is the best way to prevent periodontal disease (and the complications that may come from it). As humans, we brush our teeth twice daily and still get our teeth professionally cleaned every 6-12 months. Imagine how vital that cleaning would be if we never brushed!

Now is the time to schedule a dental check up and cleaning for your pet with one of our five Animal Health Center locations. We’ll take the much needed time to examine your pet’s teeth for any underlying health issues and discuss ways you can help maintain their healthy smiles.