It's very important to clean your dog's teeth because conditions such as periodontal disease (gum disease) are just as serious for our canine friends as it is for people. Today, our Bedford vets discuss the importance of routine teeth cleaning and dental care for dogs, as well as some signs of oral health issues you have to watch out for.
Do dogs need their teeth cleaned?
We understand that you might not have taken your dog's oral health into much consideration before, but it is an important player in their overall health. Usually, when dogs reach 3 years of age they can start displaying signs of periodontal disease (also known as gum disease) which can have a very negative impact on their overall wellbeing and physical health.
Similar to people periodontal disease in dogs can be connected to heart disease (when the bacteria travels from the mouth to the bloodstream) as well as damage to other organs. Dogs can also suffer from pain that's caused by missing teeth and eroded gums.
By combining at-home oral health care routines with dental treats you are helping your pup's teeth and mouth stay clean as well as helping control the build of tartar and plaque. Although, the absolute best way to keep your dog’s mouth healthy and clean is to take them to the vet to have their teeth cleaned professionally.
If you skip your dog's annual professional cleaning you could be putting them at risk of developing bad breath, gingivitis, periodontal disease, and in serious cases pain and tooth loss.
What happens during my dog's professional teeth cleaning?
To help protect your dog from getting conditions such as periodontal disease and tooth decay, our Bedford vets recommend bringing your dog in for a dental appointment at least once a year, or more often if they are having dental problems.
Just as when you visit your dentist, when you bring your pooch to Fine Animal Hospital for a dental checkup our vets will conduct a comprehensive oral examination for your dog and look for signs of dental problems, such as:
- Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
- Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
- Swelling or pain in or around the mouth
- Bleeding around the mouth
- Discolored teeth
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Broken teeth
Contact your vet if you notice your dog displaying any symptoms of periodontal disease such as a reduced appetite (which could be a sign of tooth pain), abnormal chewing, drooling, dropping food from the mouth, bad breath, or other symptoms.
Our vets examine every pet to make sure they are healthy enough to undergo anesthesia and implement additional diagnostics if needed. After your pet is safely anesthetized, we will conduct a complete oral exam (tooth-by-tooth) complete with charting, (just as your dentist does at your examinations).
While we have your pet safely under anesthesia, we clean and polish their teeth, both above and below the gum line. We probe and X-ray every tooth, and to help protect against future damage we use a fluoride treatment before applying a dental sealant to fight plaque.
If your dog is suffering from advanced periodontal disease, we will work with you to develop a treatment plan to help restore your dog's optimal oral health.
How can I help clean my dog's teeth?
Dog parents have a key role in helping their pets fight dental disease. Below are some easy ways that can help keep your dog's teeth healthy and clean:
- 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 appointment today, your dog will thank you.