Like people, our dogs can suffer the effects of gum disease and tooth decay. For this reason, caring for your dog's teeth is a key component of your pooch's physical health. Here, our vets in the Pacific Northwest share some tips for keeping your dog's teeth clean and their mouth healthy.
Is dog dental care necessary?
Similar to people, dogs' oral health is closely linked to their general health. Were you aware that most dogs begin to show signs of gum disease (periodontal disease) by the time they are just three years old? Early onset of dental disease can have a severe negative impact for their overall physical health and well-being.
In studies of people, a link between gum disease and heart disease has been discovered and this seems to be true for our canine companions as well.
In dogs, periodontal disease has been linked to heart disease due to bacteria entering the bloodstream from the mouth. This can damage the heart and cause problems with other organs. These issues are on top of the more obvious and immediate issue of pain caused by eroded gums, or damaged or missing teeth.
As bleak as it is, dental disease is not inevitable — you and your vet can work together to maintain your dog's oral health with a consistent and effective at-home oral healthcare routine that includes dental treats and regular brushing to help keep your pooch's teeth clean, and control plaque and tartar buildup.
That said, the best way to ensure your dog's mouth stays health is to schedule annual dental exams and cleanings at your vet's office. Not scheduling this professional cleaning once a year can put your dog at risk for gingivitis, bad breath, periodontal disease and in more severe cases tooth pain, decay and even tooth loss.
What will my vet do during my dog's dental care appointment?
Our vets in the Pacific Northwest can help prevent your dog from developing tooth decay and periodontal disease. We recommend scheduling an annual dental appointment for your dog. If your pooch is experiencing recurring or more severe dental issues, the vet may need to see your dog more often.
When you bring your dog to Broadway Animal Hospital for a dental checkup, our vets will perform a complete oral examination for your pup and look for symptoms of dental problems such as:
- Discolored teeth
- Plaque or tartar buildup
- Bad breath
- Extra or retained baby teeth
- Swelling or pain in or around the mouth
- Bleeding around the mouth
- Loose or broken teeth
If you notice signs of gum disease or dental disease in your dog, such as reduced appetite (which can indicate tooth pain), drooling, dripping food from the mouth, bad breath, abnormal chewing or other symptoms, contact your vet right away to book a dental appointment for your pooch. Untreated oral health issues can develop into severe problems and cause your pet significant 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 sedated is safe for your pet. Once your pet is safely sedated, we will perform a full oral exam (tooth-by-tooth) complete with charting, (just like your dentist does during your examinations).
While we have your dog safely and comfortably under anesthesia, our team 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 pup 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 a pivotal role in helping your pup fight dental disease. Here are a few easy ways that you can help to keep your dog's teeth clean and healthy:
- Use a finger brush from your vet, or a child’s toothbrush to brush your pet’s teeth daily to remove any plaque or debris.
- 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.