Gum disease and tooth decay are as much a problem for dogs as they are for people. That's why caring for your dog's teeth is an important element of caring for your dog's overall health. Today our Riverside County vets share some tips on how to keep your pup's teeth clean and their mouth healthy.
Does My Dog Really Need Dental Care?
Much like your own oral health, the health of your dog's teeth and gums are essential elements of their overall health. Most dogs begin showing signs of periodontal disease (gum disease) by the time they reach about three years of age. This early start to dental disease can adversely impact their physical health and wellbeing.
Studies have shown a link between periodontal disease and systemic disease such as heart disease in humans and this appears to hold true for our canine companions as well.
Periodontal disease in dogs has been linked to heart disease due to bacteria entering the bloodstream from the mouth, damaging heart function and also potentially causing issues with other organs. These issues are on top of the more obvious problem of pain caused by eroded gums, and missing or damaged teeth.
Dental diets and dog treats and a rigorous at-home oral health care routine can go a long way to helping your pup to clean their teeth, as well as helping to control the buildup of plaque and tartar. Nonetheless, the best way to ensure that your dog’s mouth stays clean and healthy is to take your pooch to the vet for an annual dental exam and cleaning.
When you make your pet’s annual wellness exam a priority, we are able to be proactive about signs of periodontal disease that looks like gingivitis, bad breath, tooth decay, gum loss and pain.
Skipping 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 My Dog's Dental Appointment?
To help prevent your dog from developing periodontal disease, we recommend bringing your dog in for their annual wellness exam. During this visit, we will assess their mouth for early signs of disease. Signs of periodontal disease look like:
- Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
- Oral bleeding
- Inflamed gums
- Pain while chewing
- Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
- Discolored teeth
- Loose or broken teeth
- Bad breath
If you notice signs of periodontal disease in your pet, be sure to contact your vet right away to schedule a dental assessment for your pet. Oral health issues can become severe if left untreated and cause your pet a great deal of pain and discomfort.
Our vets assess all pets to ensure that they are healthy enough to handle anesthesia and carry out any additional diagnostics needed to ensure that a dental examination 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) and x-ray the teeth. X-rays are essential to allow the medical team to understand the degree of periodontal disease under the gum line which typically uncovers hidden disease.
Once we gather information from the full oral exam, charting and x-rays, we are able to create a customized treatment plan for your pet that includes cleaning and polishing your pup’s teeth, both above and below the gum line.
How To Brush Your 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 along with specially designed pet toothpaste 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 or add to their drinking water. These products act as a barrier to prevent plaque buildup.
- Offer your pup treats such as dental chews or special foods 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 wellness exam 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.