After two months of boarding, my dogs were released from jail to join our family. The fire had left us without the ability to manage animals in our tiny temporary hotel. Really, I should not refer to their boarding facility as a jail. They enjoyed two acres and a bone-shaped wading pool. My husband paid extra for the daily doggie-ice cream treats. But there were consequences. We did not pay extra for the dogs’ standard daily tooth brushing and now their teeth look terrible. I immediately resumed their daily brushing routine.
Many years ago, a veterinarian’s wife emphasized the connection between heart and dental health. She expressed her frustration that many pet owners don’t care for their animals’ teeth and gums. Our conversation propelled me to more regularly engage patients about their dental health and to start better caring for my own animals.
A stickler for tooth brushing (ask my teens), I am surprised that many people do not brush or floss regularly. At a child’s physical exam, we regularly encourage twice daily brushing. Although I might be stretching my luck, older children also are advised to pull out the dental floss and start using it daily.
Poor health hygiene can result in loss of gum health and structural bone support. The World Health Organization reports 10-20 percent of people worldwide have severe dental disease and nearly 40 percent has moderate disease. One study found that people who brushed their teeth less often had a 70 percent increased risk of heart disease compared to those with strict oral hygiene habits.
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