What is plaque?

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Plaque is the first buildup of material adhering to tooth enamel. Composed of a mix of bacteria and cells it can cause infection, calculi buildup and periodontal disease for your pet.

Over time, the plaque turns into rock-hard tartar. If tartar isn’t removed from your dog’s teeth, it will eventually inflame her gums. As the inflamed gums begin to separate from the teeth, pockets form in which more bacteria grow, causing periodontal disease to worsen. At this point, your dog can experience severe pain, lose teeth, form abscesses in her mouth and develop a bacterial infection that can spread through the bloodstream to the kidneys, liver, heart or brain.

Periodontal disease is irreversible, so now is a great time to get started on a regular oral-care regimen for your dog. Prevention is the key to keeping her healthy and happy.

Veterinary experts recommend brushing once a day. If that isn’t possible, aim for several times a week.

A few other things to keep in mind:

• Periodontal disease primarily affects dogs over three years old, but it’s best get your dog used to regular brushing when she’s young. If you have a puppy, start now to make it easy for both of you as she matures.
• Take your dog to the veterinarian for an annual checkup, which should include an oral exam. As your dog ages, your vet may recommend professional cleaning, which is usually done under anesthesia.
• Feeding your dog hard kibble and treats instead of canned food alone can help prevent the build-up of harmful plaque. Providing plenty of edible chews can also reduce plaque on your dog’s teeth, but it is best if they include the American Veterinary Oral Health (AVHC) seal of approval.
• Consult your veterinarian if you want to learn how to scale or scrape your dog’s teeth using a special dental tool. While this can be very beneficial to your dog, it takes special training.

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