In recent years, we humans have been provenly paying greater attention to our oral care. But how aware are we of the dental issues and possible treatments of animals? Do we take proper care of the gums and teeth of our pets? And is that even needed?
In a popular DentaVox survey, we asked 3067 respondents globally about their opinions on various notions related to animal teeth. See what they think and how it compares to experts’ findings on interesting matters such as:
#1: Dogs have more bacteria in their mouth than humans: SO-SO
A whooping 70% of DentaVox survey participants believe that the mouth of a dog hosts more bacteria than the human mouth. This is curious considering the fact that there has been a popular myth about the opposite going around for years.
In fact, human mouths are home to roughly 650-1000 different types of bacteria at any given moment, while dog mouths – to around 600. The difference is not statistically significant. Nowaday experts even warn about believing in this claim as a dog’s mouth is besieged by its own legions of germs and some of those can be even more aggressive than the ones in humans. Shortly said, don’t rely on this statement and take proper care for your dog’s gums and teeth.
#2: Dolphins have no teeth: MYTH
Dolphins… These beautiful creatures that so many people love. It is clear they can swim and jump in the water but can they bite? Well, considering their full pack of permanent teeth, the answer is positive; although it’s considered this happens only when they are disturbed or afraid.
68% of interviewees correctly say that dolphins actually do have teeth. More interestingly, the age of dolphins can be defined by their teeth and they don’t use them for chewing food as the lack of jaw muscles forces them to swallow it whole.
#3: Dental chews are enough to keep pets’ teeth healthy: MYTH
Approximately one-third of DentaVox respondents believe that the dental care of pets can easily be limited to dental chews. And although these useful treats can definitely help, they are not enough to prevent oral health issues. Here is a list of tips you can apply to your dog to ensure proper care:
#4: Sharks have the most teeth of all animals: MYTH
A whole 68% share of survey participants is convinced that sharks have the highest number of teeth in all the animal kingdom.
Check #6 if you craved a shark fact but this one is not true. The record for most teeth is owned by a much smaller and less scary animal – the snail. Garden snails have about 14,000 teeth while other species can reach up to 20,000. And there are two related facts that are even more shocking: 1) Snail teeth are not fixed in the gums but are arranged in rows on the tongue, and 2) The teeth of a snail called limpet are the strongest biological material ever tested.
#5: Animals cannot have receding gums like humans: MYTH
Although a bit over half of the studied people correctly point out that receding gums can be apparent in animals as well, another 28% are not at all convinced. Let’s look at some facts.
There is a popular phrase “long in the tooth” that refers to elderly people, whose origin is inspired by… horses! As horses age, their gums recede making the teeth look longer and longer. Not only that, but the vast majority of dogs and cats have some form of periodontal disease. A current ongoing study places the incidence in these pets to almost 90% at 1 year of age.
#6: Some animals can grow new teeth numerous times in their lives: FACT
Imagine being able to completely renew your teeth without having to go to the dentist. 57% of DentaVox respondents correctly guessed that some animals have this great feature.
Sharks constantly lose teeth but can grow a replacement tooth within just a day of losing one. The reason is that their teeth are not attached to gums like with humans, and this leads to easy breaks or complete loss of teeth while chomping into their prey. This leads to the phenomenal presence of over 20,000 teeth in one shark’s lifetime!
#7: Most animals don’t have cavities: FACT
More survey participants oppose the statement that most animals don’t have cavities – 50% against 35% who support it.
In fact, it is absolutely true that the teeth of most animals do not decay as their diets are not high in sugar and they also chew on more hard materials which helps clean the plaque. Even dogs, who are predisposed to a higher sugar intake due to sometimes being given sweets or other human food, cannot compare to the prevalence of caries in humans. To put this into perspective, according to the World Health Organization around 90% of school children have at least one cavity, whereas in dogs this share is just 5%.
Despite that, your pet can develop other dental issues such as gum problems, misaligned teeth, bad breath, oral cancer, and more. Watch out for these signs and consult a veterinary clinic if you notice any:
#8: There is no problem with using human toothpaste on animals: MYTH
Interviewees (66%) agree that human toothpaste is not a fit for animals.
Veterinary doctors confirm. Human toothpastes contain ingredients that should not be swallowed as otherwise, they can cause digestive issues. Some human toothpastes contain high levels of sodium which may even make your pet ill, while others may contain xylitol which is toxic for dogs.
#9: Dry food is better for all pets’ teeth than canned food: MYTH
A slightly over half of DentaVox respondents do believe that dry food is always better for pets’ teeth compared to soft canned food.
For dogs, for example, this is partly true as dry food helps them clean plaque buildup. For cats, however, this statement is false. Most dry cat food offers no significant chewing resistance due to its small size and brittleness. When the cat’s teeth come in contact with it, the food shatters before the tooth penetrates it, losing its abrasive action benefits. In fact, as carnivores, cats frequently swallow their dry food whole.
To conclude, dry food is not the best match for all animals. And the texture of the food is much less important than the proper oral care routine.
#10: Animals cannot get dental fillings: MYTH
One-third of survey participants are fully convinced that dental fillings are only for humans and animals cannot get them. However, this is a myth.
Uncomplicated tooth fractures in animals usually do not require extractions. If the pulp is not exposed, the treatment involves smoothing the surface and closing the fracture with a bonding agent (similar to human dental fillings). What’s more: Even if the pulp is exposed, the veterinarian can still save the tooth by performing root canal treatment.
Long story short: If you want your pet to have a healthy mouth, don’t underestimate the importance of animal oral care nor the state of veterinary dental medicine
Which of those myths and facts were you aware of?
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Stats source: DentaVox
20 Questions: Animal Teeth
Base: 3062 respondents (global sample)