“Dr. Alpan, my dog doesn’t brush her teeth and they are just fine. Why do I have to brush mine?” One of my more curious, and perhaps non-compliant patients, asked me this recently. It may seem like your pet doesn’t have any oral health problems even though they never brush or floss, but many pets suffer from gum and tooth decay just like humans do. By the end of a pet’s life, it is often missing teeth or experiencing the pain of rotted teeth. But, your pet’s diet has a lot to do with why the teeth don’t decay faster. Pets are fed diets high in protein and low in sugar. They are not exposed to foods that are highly acidic or high in sugar unless their masters are slipping them these types of table scraps. Just like other mammals, a pet’s teeth are designed to get them through this life on an appropriate diet. Your pet will experience some tooth decay without good dental hygiene. In fact, veterinarians recommend brushing and regular cleanings. It may seem like your pets never have dental issues, but as a pet gets older, tooth decay and gum disease becomes a lot more prevalent.
The reason humans need to brush so often is because of our diets. We eat foods that lead to tooth decay, food high in sugar and acidic foods. As the average life expectancy keeps increasing, the need to keep good oral hygiene habits becomes greater so that the teeth last the duration of our lives. It may seem that a pet’s teeth and human teeth are not comparable, but in actuality, the need to take care of both are just as strong. If your pet loses a permanent tooth after twelve years, you chalk it up to old age. If you were to lose a permanent tooth after twelve years due to tooth decay, it would be devastating. So take good care of those pearly whites…both yours and your pet’s.