Good oral health is just as important for dogs as it is for people because our canine companions are susceptible to tooth decay and periodontal disease just like humans. In this blog, our Bedford vets discuss the importance of dog dental health and how you can clean your pup's teeth at home.
Does my dog need dental care?
The oral health of dogs is important to their overall health and wellbeing. Dogs can start displaying symptoms of periodontal disease when they are just 3 years old. When this condition arises at such a young age in our canine friends it can have negative effects on their long-term health.
There have been studies done that show a connection between heart disease and periodontal disease in both dogs and people.
The connection between periodontal disease and heart disease occurs when bacteria enters the bloodstream from the mouth, causing damage to heart function and problems with other organs. These health issues develop on top of the more visible problem of pain caused by eroded gums and damaged or missing teeth.
Implementing at-home oral health care routines in combination with dental treats can help your pup keep their teeth clean and control the buildup of tartar and plaque. Although, the best way to maintain your pooch's good oral health is to take them to the vet once a year for a hygiene cleaning and dental exam.
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 happens at my dog's dental care appointments?
To help prevent your dog from developing tooth decay and periodontal disease, our Bedford vets at Fine Animal Hospital suggest taking your pup to their primary care veterinarian for a dental appointment at least once a year, or more often if they are suffering from severe or recurring dental conditions.
When you bring your dog to Fine Animal Hospital for a dental checkup our vets will conduct a full oral examination for your pooch and look for signs of dental problems, 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 find symptoms of periodontal disease in your dog, such as a reduced appetite (which could be a sign of tooth pain), drooling, abnormal chewing, bad breath, dropping food from the mouth, or other symptoms call your vet immediately to book a dental appointment for your pooch. Oral health issues can become severe if they are left untreated and cause your pet a lot of pain and discomfort.
Our vets assess all dogs to make sure that they are healthy enough to undergo anesthesia and perform additional diagnostics if needed to make sure that a dental exam while anesthetized is safe for your pet. Once your companion is safely sedated, we will conduct 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.
How to brush my dog's teeth?
As a pet parent, you have an essential role in helping your dog fight dental diseases. Below are a few easy ways that you can help to clean your dog's teeth and keep their mouth 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. It's a simple as brushing your own teeth. If your dog resists having their teeth cleaned try some doggie toothpaste in flavors your pooch will find irresistible. These special toothpaste can turn a chore into a treat.
- 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.