We all want our furry companions to live long, healthy lives, and proper dental care is a crucial aspect of that. Just like us, pets require regular dental hygiene to prevent issues like periodontal disease and tooth decay. But when is the right time to start dental care for your pet? This article will guide you through the basics of pet oral health, the best time to start dental care, and tips on maintaining your pet’s dental hygiene.

The Basics of Pet Oral Health

Introduction to Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is a common issue in pets, affecting over 85% of cats and dogs by the age of three. It begins with the buildup of plaque, which eventually hardens into tartar, leading to inflammation, gum disease, and even tooth loss.

Signs of Dental Disease in Pets

Some signs that your pet may be suffering from dental disease include bad breath, swollen or bleeding gums, difficulty chewing, and tooth loss. Regularly checking your pet’s mouth for these signs can help you catch dental problems early.

Risk Factors for Pet Dental Disease

Some factors that contribute to dental disease in pets include age, breed, diet, and individual oral hygiene. Some pets are more prone to dental issues due to genetic predispositions or poor dental care routines.

When to Start Pet Dental Care

Dental Care for Puppies and Kittens

It’s never too early to start caring for your pet’s teeth. In fact, dental care should begin as soon as you bring your new kitten or puppy home. At this age, focus on getting them used to having their mouth touched and introducing them to the taste of pet-safe toothpaste.

Dental Care for Adult Pets

For adult pets who have not received consistent dental care, it’s essential to schedule a professional cleaning with your vet and establish a dental care routine moving forward. The sooner dental care is implemented, the better the chance of preventing future dental issues.

Age-Related Dental Issues

As pets age, their dental health can deteriorate due to weakened immune systems or wear and tear on their teeth. Regular check-ups with your veterinarian and proper dental care can help address these issues promptly and prevent them from worsening.

Establishing a Dental Care Routine

Introducing Your Pet to Oral Care

Start by familiarizing your pet with oral care tools like a toothbrush or dental wipes. Reward your pet with praise or treats when they become comfortable with you handling their mouth.

Did you know that proper dog vaccinations can indirectly impact your pet’s dental health? Vaccinations help prevent certain diseases that could weaken your pet’s immune system, making them more susceptible to dental infections. Regularly vaccinating your pet can contribute to their overall health and well-being.

Choosing the Right Tools and Products for Dental Care

  • Pet Toothpaste and Toothbrushes: When brushing your pet’s teeth, it’s important to use pet-specific toothbrushes and toothpaste, as human toothpaste is not safe for pets. Many animal toothpaste flavors cater to your pet’s preferences, like chicken or seafood.
  • Dental Wipes, Rinses, and Pads: For pets who are resistant to toothbrushes, consider dental wipes or rinses. Although not as effective as brushing, these products help remove plaque and prevent tartar buildup when used consistently.

Regularly brushing your pet’s teeth, ideally daily but at least twice weekly, can significantly reduce the risk of dental disease and discomfort.

Some veterinarians may offer an innovative treatment known as cold laser therapy for pets. This therapy can help with a variety of health issues, including dental inflammation and pain. If your vet offers this service, ask if it might be beneficial in supporting your pet’s dental health. On this page, you can learn more about cold laser therapy for pets. 

Professional Teeth Cleaning for Pets

The Importance of Regular Cleanings

Routine professional cleanings are critical for maintaining your pet’s oral health. These cleanings, performed by your veterinarian, thoroughly remove plaque and tartar, clean below the gum line, and polish the teeth.

What to Expect During a Professional Cleaning

Pets require general anesthesia for a thorough cleaning, as cleaning below the gum line can be uncomfortable. A veterinarian evaluates each tooth, measuring periodontal pockets and removing plaque and tartar, even from hard-to-reach areas.

If you’re looking for a professional to assist with your pet’s dental care, search for a pet dentist in Weldon Spring, MO, or your local area. A dedicated pet dentist will be well-versed in addressing your pet’s unique dental health needs and will work closely with you to develop a thorough dental care plan.

Anesthesia and Cleaning Concerns

While anesthesia may be a concern for some pet owners, it is a necessary part of a thorough dental cleaning. Your veterinarian will monitor your pet throughout the procedure to ensure their safety.

Dental Treats and Diets for Pets

Choosing the Right Dental Treats

Dental treats like Greenies and other effective chews can help reduce plaque and tartar by up to 69% when used daily. Ensure the treats are the appropriate size for your pet to avoid choking hazards.

Dental Diets

Specialized dental diets, designed to assist in removing plaque and tartar, can also be helpful in maintaining your pet’s oral health. These diets often feature large kibbles and unique ingredients that scrub plaque off the teeth as your pet chews.


Caring for your pet’s dental health is an essential, sometimes overlooked, aspect of pet ownership. By starting dental care early, establishing a regular routine, and seeking professional assistance as needed, you can help prevent dental disease and ensure your pet enjoys many years of happiness and good health. Don’t wait – start caring for your pet’s teeth today!