Many clients really don't realize just what a bit of plaque can do, says Sara L. Sharp, CVT, VTS (Dentistry), secretary of
the Academy of Veterinary Dental Technicians. And it often falls to you to discuss the danger of a dirty mouth. The best approach
is a little honesty—with a mix of tact, of course.
"A lack of dental care can lead to many health problems, and some are severe," she says. "I like to say that everything begins
with the mouth."
The first sign most clients will recognize? Stinky dog breath. "Doggy breath is offensive at best, but the problem can progress
to periodontal disease," Sharp says. "So remind clients that if this goes untreated, severe gingival problems can lead to
tooth loss, chronic oral pain, and even pathologic jaw fractures from brittle, infected bone."
A pet can also experience systemic problems. "Liver, kidney, heart, and lung issues all may be caused by chronic oral infection,"
Sharp says. "And behavioral problems can result from the chronic pain."