Periodontal disease and tooth decay are concerns as much for dogs as they are for people. That's why learning how to clean your dog's teeth is an important element of caring for your dog's overall health. Today our Ambler veterinarians share some tips on how to clean a dog's mouth and keep your dog's teeth clean and healthy.
Is dog dental care really necessary?
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 show 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. This damages heart function and causes 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.
At-home oral health care routines paired with dental treats can go a long way to helping your pooch keep their teeth clean and control the buildup of plaque and tartar. Nonetheless, the best way to ensure that your pup’s mouth stays clean and healthy is to take your dog to the veterinarian for an annual dental exam and hygiene cleaning.
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 during dog dental care appointment?
To stop your dog from developing tooth decay and periodontal disease, our Ambler veterinarians at Spring House 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 Spring House Animal Hospital for a dental checkup our veterinarians 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 detect symptoms of periodontal disease in your dog, such as reduced appetite (which can be an indication of tooth pain), abnormal chewing, drooling, dropping food from the mouth, bad breath or other symptoms be sure to contact your veterinarian right away to schedule a dental appointment for your dog. Oral health issues can become severe if left untreated and cause your dog a great deal of pain and discomfort.
Our veterinarians 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 dog. Once your dog is safely sedated, we will perform a full tooth-by-tooth examination, complete with charting, (just like your dentist does during your examinations).
Although 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 responsible dog owner, you play an active 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:
- Use a finger brush from your veterinarian, or a child’s toothbrush to brush your dog’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 toothpastes can turn a chore into a treat.
- Use a plaque prevention product (your veterinarian can recommend some), which you can apply to your dog’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.
Periodontal care is an important part of your dog's overall health. Be sure to book your dog'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 dog's condition, please make an appointment with your veterinarian.