Properly caring for your dog's dental health is important in maintaining not just your pet's oral health, but their overall well-being. Here, our Benton vets discuss dental care for dogs and how you can help keep your pup's teeth and mouth healthy.
The Importance of Dental Care for Dogs
Your dog's oral health is an important part of their overall well-being. By three, dogs frequently show signs of periodontal disease (gum disease) which can have serious consequences for their long-term health.
Studies in humans have found a link between periodontal disease and heart disease, and this appears to be true for our pets as well.
The link between heart disease and periodontal disease is caused by bacteria entering the bloodstream from the mouth, damaging heart function and causing problems with other organs. These health issues are in addition to the more obvious problems of pain caused by eroded gums and missing or damaged teeth.
At-home oral health care routines combined with dental treats can go a long way toward assisting your dog in keeping their teeth clean and controlling plaque and tartar buildup. Nonetheless, the best way to keep your dog's mouth clean and healthy is to take him to the vet for an annual dental exam and hygiene cleaning.
Neglecting routine dental cleanings could put your dog at risk of developing gingivitis, periodontal disease, bad breath, and in severe cases pain, tooth decay, and tooth loss.
Cleaning Your Dog's Teeth at Home
As a pet owner, you play a critical role in assisting your dog in combating dental disease. Here are a few simple ways you can help keep your dog's mouth healthy and clean his teeth:
- 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. If your dog resists having its teeth cleaned try some doggie toothpaste in flavors your pooch will find irresistible. These special dog-friendly kinds of 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.
Professional Dental Cleanings
To help prevent your dog from developing tooth decay and periodontal disease, our Benton vets recommend bringing your dog in for a professional dental cleaning and examination at least once a year. More frequent cleanings may be necessary if they are suffering from more severe or recurring dental problems.
When you bring your dog in for a dental checkup, our vets will perform a full oral examination for your pooch and check for signs of dental issues, such as:
- Discolored teeth
- Loose or
- Broken teeth
- Bad breath
- Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
- Bleeding around the mouth
- Swelling or pain in or around the mouth
- Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
If you notice signs of periodontal disease in your pet, such as decreased appetite (which can be an indication of tooth pain), abnormal chewing, drooling, dropping food from the mouth, bad breath, or other symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately to schedule a dental appointment. If left untreated, oral health problems can become severe, causing your pet a great deal of pain and discomfort.
After your pet has been safely sedated, your veterinarian will perform a full tooth-by-tooth examination, including charting (just like your dentist does during your examinations).
We will thoroughly clean and polish your dog's teeth, both above and below the gum line, while it is safely and comfortably sedated. We probe and X-ray the teeth, then use a fluoride treatment to help protect against future decay and damage before applying a dental sealant to prevent plaque buildup.
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 mouth to a pain-free and healthy state.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.