Tooth decay and gum disease are as much of a problem for dogs as they are for people. That's why caring for your dog's dental health is an important element of caring for their dog's overall health. Here our Modesto vets explain how to clean a dog's mouth and keep your pup's smile sparkling clean.
Why Dog Dental Care Is Important
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.
In humans, studies have shown a link between periodontal disease and heart disease and this appears to hold true for our pets as well.
The link between heart disease and periodontal disease in dogs is due to bacteria entering the bloodstream from the mouth, damaging heart function and causing 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 vet 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.
Risks of Professional Teeth Cleaning for Dogs
Any procedure performed under anesthesia comes with risks that's why our vets assess all pets to ensure that they are healthy enough to handle anesthesia and we conduct additional diagnostics if required to ensure that a dental exam while anesthetized is safe for your pet.
What Happens During a Dental Appointment for Dogs
To help prevent your dog from developing tooth decay and periodontal disease, our Modesto vets at American Pet 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 American Pet Hospital for a dental checkup our vets 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 pet, 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 vet right away to schedule a dental appointment for your pet. Oral health issues can become severe if left untreated and cause your pet a great deal of pain and discomfort.
Once your pet is safely sedated, we will perform 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.
All dogs are different but you can expect your pooch to begin recovering from the anesthetic within a few hours, although in some cases it can take 24-48 hours to fully recover. During this time, your dog may seem drowsy and have a reduced appetite.
Preventive Dental Health is Worth the Cost
The cost of dog dental cleaning varies widely due to a number of factors including the size of your dog, the condition of your dog's teeth, where you live, and your individual vet. Contact your vet to get an accurate estimate for having your dog's teeth cleaned.
That said, more invasive and expensive procedures - and surgeries - could be avoided with regular preventive dental care. Routine dental hygiene and professional cleanings for your dog give your vet the opportunity to take proactive steps to help avoid advanced tooth decay and gum disease that can lead to pain, tooth loss, and jaw deterioration.
How To Clean Your Dog's Teeth
It is not uncommon for pet parents to ask "should I brush my dog's teeth?". The answer is a resounding yes, but how do you clean a dog's mouth?
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 vet, or a child’s toothbrush to brush your pet’s teeth daily to remove any plaque or debris. It's as 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 canine toothpastes 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.
Caring for your dog's dental health 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.