DEAR LABBY: The last time I was at the vet she told my human mom that I have tartar, gingivitis, some gum recession and a tooth that may need to be extracted. Sure my mouth hurts on the one side (pretty much all the time, actually) but I still eat and drink just fine! Is this something I should be worried about? -MOUTH TROUBLED MALTESE
DEAR MOUTH TROUBLED: It is a good thing you had your mouth assessed by your vet! And yes, your oral health is definitely something that should be a concern for you and your owner. Unfortunately, many of our furless loved ones don’t realize when we are having issues with our mouth because we rarely show signs that we are living with such chronic oral pain. If your human had a pain in her mouth, it wouldn’t stop her from eating either – but odds are she would have it looked after by a professional because no one wants to live life in pain. Have your person talk to the vet about dentistry and how much better you’ll feel once you can eat your favourite food and chew your favourite toy without any pain in your mouth!
DEAR LABBY: I just had my teeth professionally cleaned under a general anesthetic and luckily, I didn’t need any extractions. Man, are they shiny, white and healthy! I know my vet was talking about some preventive things we could do so that I won’t need another dentistry soon but to be honest, I was too busy thinking about playing in the park. Can you refresh my memory? -DAYDREAMING DOBERMAN
DEAR DAYDREAMING: You are in luck, my friend! There are lots of things you and your human can do to help keep your mouth in tip top shape. The first and most effective is tooth brushing …but it can’t be a once a week sort of thing. Having your teeth brushed daily (or at minimum every other day) is the sure fire way to help keep your mouth healthy, otherwise plaque forms which then turns into tartar (yuck). Other options that help are veterinary diets that are designed to reduce build-up with ingredients such as sodium hexametaphosphate (that’s a mouth full!) and/or ones that are designed in such a way that when they are chewed, it is like they are scrubbing your teeth. Your parents will appreciate that all of these diets are guaranteed so if you decide to get picky (hey, we like what we like, am I right?!), they can always get a refund or an exchange. There are also special oral gels and chews that can help, as well. If you can get on board with some or even all of these preventive options, you’ll definitely have a healthier mouth for longer.