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February is national pet dental health month

Article by Sally Uhrich and photo by Terri Wiebold

It’s good news for pet owners. Dr. John Vickers of the Castle Pines Veterinary Clinic is offering a 10 percent discount on pet dental cleanings during the month of February.

As pet owners, we should be aware that cats and smaller dogs are known to have the highest incidence of periodontal disease.

Dental disease begins with the formation of sticky, yellow film seen on the teeth, called plaque, which is formed by bacteria in the mouth. Increased plaque build-up causes an infection of the gums known as gingivitis; this is often seen as a red line along the teeth.

In time, the plaque hardens to form tartar, which holds the infection to the tooth surface and helps push bacteria and debris under the gum line. Periodontal disease is the deeper infection of the teeth and tooth roots, which may result in tooth loss.

A pet’s diet can have an effect on their dental health. Although food particles always accumulate on the teeth, soft food speeds up this process. Pets who eat exclusively hard food are thought to have fewer problems than pets that eat any amount of canned, semi-moist, or table foods.

Many people do not realize the damage that occurs from poor dental health. When there is a periodontal infection, the gum tissue’s extensive blood supply allows the bacteria to be carried into your pet’s circulation. This will eventually lead to heart, liver, kidney, bone and joint disease. In addition to pain and suffering, organ failure may result.

Warning signs of dental disease may be bad breath and possibly drooling or frequent licking. Inflammation of the gums (redness) with possible bleeding or obvious tartar buildup may be noted on an oral exam. Pus may be around the teeth or on the muzzle in advanced cases.

Treatment for most pets involves cleaning plaque and tartar from the teeth and even below the gum line by a veterinarian. In more severe cases, treatment may include filling cavities, performing root canals or extractions, and prescribing antibiotics.

Prevention of dental disease involves three basic steps: First, ask your veterinarian about feeding only dry food and giving your pet rawhide chews. Second, brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. There are different pet toothbrushes and pastes to clean your pet’s teeth. Do not use your toothpaste, as most human products contain too high of a detergent content. Third, although you may brush frequently, plaque and tartar will build up with time. A regular professional care is needed to keep teeth in top shape.

Good dental health practices with your pet may not only add to their length and quality of life, but are an essential part of being a responsible pet owner.

To contact Dr. Vicker’s office, call 303-688-8665 or e-mail



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