Oral care is an important factor that should be included when taking a proactive approach to your pet's health and well-being. Regular tooth brushing and dental checks could spell the difference between a dog having healthy teeth and gums and an oral issue that is causing pain and discomfort.
A good percentage of dogs have some degree of dental disease by the time they are 3 years old. Without proper dental care and veterinary attention, bacteria that thrive and multiply in the mouth can get into the bloodstream and spread to major organs of the body where they can cause permanent damage.
Some pet owners think that brushing their dog's teeth every day seems to be an impossible task. But early introduction coupled with tons of patience, practice, and praise, brushing your dog's teeth won't be such a big deal at all. In fact, some dogs look forward to it especially if they know that their favorite treat is waiting once tooth brushing is done.
How do I take care of my dog’s teeth?
- Know the warning signs of tooth and gum problems
Foul-smelling breath is an early sign of dental problems. You may also find plaque and tartar buildup on the dog's teeth. Other signs that you should keep an eye out for include swollen and inflamed gums, and loose or broken teeth. The dog may have difficulty chewing and drool excessively. The pain and discomfort may cause the dog to paw at his mouth which can eventually lead to trauma.
Just like any other health issue, early detection, and intervention are very important. If you see any signs of a dental problem, contact your veterinarian immediately.
- Dog teeth cleaning
Good oral hygiene should be practiced at home. Tooth brushing should be introduced to a dog as early as possible. Pet owners should know how to brush dogs teeth. Make sure that each tooth brushing session is a positive experience for your dog with plenty of treats and other forms of positive reinforcement.
How can I get plaque off my dog's teeth?
Daily brushing helps remove plaque where bacteria thrive. Without regular brushing, the plaque eventually hardens into tartar, which needs professional dental procedures to remove.
When brushing your pet's teeth, be sure to only use specially formulated dog toothpaste. Your toothpaste can contain ingredients that can be harmful or toxic to your pet.
- Bring your pet to your vet for regular dental checks
During these visits, your pet's teeth will be subjected to professional cleaning. Even if you brush your pet's teeth daily, your veterinarian may recommend a dental cleaning after conducting a thorough exam. Professional cleaning involves placing a dog under general anesthesia so it will be possible to remove any plaque and tartar on the dog's teeth and under the gum line and do a thorough examination of the animal's mouth. If there are signs of dental disease, your vet may recommend dental x-rays to check below the gum line. Advancements in veterinary medicine have also reached veterinary dentistry, thus root canals, braces, and other dental treatments can now be performed on dogs and cats.
Your vet may refer you to a veterinary dental specialist if there is a need for special procedures to be performed.
- Dog dental care products -- Chew toys and dental treats
Chew toys and dental treats are not created equal. When buying some for your pet, buy those that carry the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) Seal of Acceptance or you can ask your vet for recommendations.
How to clean dog teeth without brushing?
Some pets hate having their teeth brushed, but the good news is, there are alternative dog dental care products that are available. If you are looking for ways on how to clean dog teeth without brushing, you should check out these alternative treatments for dental care which includes the following:
- Dental diets -- Some pet foods are specially formulated to help control the buildup of plaque and tartar. Appropriate dental diets should carry the VOHC seal of approval.
- Oral rinses and gels -- These products are formulated with ingredients that can help prevent bacteria from attaching to the enamel of the tooth.
- Water additives -- This is added to your pet's drinking water daily to help prevent the accumulation of plaque.
You should ask your veterinarian for advice before giving your pet any of these alternative dental treatments.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dog Oral Care
What is the most important factor that contributes to dental problems in dogs?
Periodontal disease is the biggest issue that contributes to dental issues in dogs. The condition involves the inflammation of the supporting structures of the teeth. During the early stages of periodontal disease, only the gums may be affected but as it progresses, the supporting structures become involved.
Periodontal disease develops when plaque builds up on the teeth of dogs. Without daily brushing and regular professional cleaning, plaque can eventually harden into tartar, which can only be removed by professional cleaning. The presence of tartar will sooner or later lead to the destruction of the tooth and its surrounding structures.
Signs of periodontal disease in dogs
- Bone loss
Do dogs really require dental X-rays?
Yes. Considering that about 70% of gum disease develops below the gumline, X-rays are needed for proper diagnosis.
Will dental cleaning help get rid of bad breath in dogs?
A good home dental regimen that includes regular tooth brushing and thorough professional cleaning can certainly help improve your pet's breath.
What happens if my pet's tooth is broken?
The tooth may need to be extracted if the root or pulp is exposed. Your vet may choose to perform a root canal, if necessary. Without prompt veterinary intervention, the break creates a portal where bacteria can enter and multiply to cause an infection which can eventually cause a lot of damage with time.
How can I clean my dog's teeth naturally?
If your dog is not so keen on regular tooth brushing, there are natural ways to keep plaque and tartar off his teeth and gums. These include dental chews, cleansing wipes, and specially-formulated kibble.