Periodontal disease and tooth decay are as problematic for dogs as they are for people. That's why caring for your dog's teeth is an important element of caring for your dog's overall health. Today, our Weldon Spring vets share some tips on how to clean a dog's mouth and keep your pup's teeth clean and healthy.
Is dog dental care really necessary?
Like your own oral health, your dog's oral health is an essential element of their overall wellbeing. Dogs often begin showing signs of periodontal disease (gum disease) by the time they reach about 3 years of age. This early start to dental disease can have serious negative consequences for their long-term health.
Studies have shown a link between periodontal disease and heart disease in humans and this appears to hold true for our canine companions as well.
The link between heart disease and periodontal disease in dogs is due to bacteria entering the bloodstream from the mouth, damaging heart function, and causing issues with other organs. These health issues are in addition to the more obvious problem of pain caused by eroded gums, and missing or damaged teeth.
Dental treats and at-home oral health care routines can go a long way toward helping your dog keep their teeth clean and control plaque and tartar buildup. Nonetheless, taking your dog to the vet for an annual dental exam and hygiene cleaning is the best way to ensure that his mouth stays clean and healthy.
Neglecting annual professional cleaning could put your dog at risk of developing gingivitis, periodontal disease, bad breath, and in severe cases pain, tooth decay, and tooth loss.
What will happen during my dog's dental care appointment?
To help prevent your dog from developing tooth decay and periodontal disease, our Weldon Spring vets at Tender Care Animal Hospital recommend bringing your dog in for a dental appointment at least once each year, or more frequently if they are suffering from more severe or recurring dental problems.
When you bring your dog to Tender Care Animal Hospital for a dental checkup our vets will perform a full oral examination for your pooch and check for signs of dental issues, such as:
- Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
- Bleeding around the mouth
- Swelling or pain in or around the mouth
- Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
- Discolored teeth
- Loose or
- Broken teeth
- Bad breath
If you notice signs of periodontal disease in your pet, such as a decreased appetite (which could indicate tooth pain), abnormal chewing, drooling, dropping food from the mouth, bad breath, or other symptoms, contact your veterinarian right away to schedule a dental exam. If left untreated, oral health problems can become severe, causing your pet a lot of pain and discomfort.
Our vets assess all pets to ensure that they are healthy enough to handle anesthesia and conduct additional diagnostics if required to ensure that a dental exam while anesthetized is safe for your pet. Once your pet is safely sedated, we will perform a full tooth-by-tooth examination, complete with charting, (just like your dentist does during your examinations).
While we have your dog safely and comfortably under anesthesia, we will thoroughly clean and polish your pup's teeth, both above and below the gum line. We probe and x-ray the teeth, then to help protect against future decay and damage we use a fluoride treatment before applying a dental sealant to prevent plaque buildup.
If your pooch is suffering from advanced periodontal disease, we will work with you to develop a treatment plan to help restore your dog's mouth to a pain-free and healthy state.
Should I brush my dog's teeth?
As a pet owner, you play an essential role in helping your dog fight dental disease. Here are a few easy ways that you can help to keep your dog's mouth healthy and how to clean your dog's teeth:
- Brush your pet's teeth daily with a finger brush from your vet or a child's toothbrush to remove any plaque or debris. Brushing your teeth is all it takes. If your dog is resistant to having their teeth cleaned, try some doggie toothpaste with flavors that your dog will love. These unique toothpaste can transform a chore into a pleasure.
- Use a plaque prevention product (your vet can recommend some), which you can apply to your pet’s teeth and gums. These products act as a barrier to prevent plaque buildup.
- Offer your pup treats such as dental chews or food designed to help prevent plaque buildup and tartar.
Dental care is an important part of your pet's overall health. Be sure to book your pet's annual dental appointment today, your dog will thank you.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.