Dogs and cats have similar teeth to humans and their teeth require the same level of care we give our own. When we don't brush teeth, plaque accumulates and eventually mineralizes to form calculus or tartar. This hard tartar requires scaling to be removed. If left on the tooth surface, it allows bacteria to get under the gums and leads to inflammation, pain, and other issues.
We can discuss many options and recommendations for at home dental care, including brushing, dental treats and chews, water additives, oral gels, and more. Here are links for information on brushing your pet's teeth: Caring for your dog's teeth and Caring for your cat's teeth
It is recommended that every pet have annual professional dental cleanings with full oral examination once they are adults. Certain breeds may require this treatment bi-annually. During a dental procedure, your pet is safely anesthetized to allow for a thorough oral exam. The teeth are radiographed (x-rayed), examined for any issues, scaled, polished, and a fluoride treatment is performed. If there are teeth that are causing pain or are a concern, we may discuss further treatments, such as extractions or referral for root canal treatment.
Untreated dental disease is the leading cause of pain and suffering in our companion animals. Animals do not whine or complain about their dental pain because in a pack setting, this would show weakness, so many owners don't notice their pet's pain. Instead, you might notice bad breath or red and inflamed gums.