Just like people dogs can develop oral health conditions such as gum disease and tooth decay, which makes routine teeth cleaning and dental exams an important part of our canine companion's overall health and wellbeing. In this blog, our Kinston vets discuss the importance of dog dental care and ways you can keep your pup's teeth clean.
Do Dogs Need Dental Care?
Similar to your oral health, your pup's oral health is an important part of their overall health. The majority of dogs will start displaying signs of periodontal disease (gum disease) by the time they are approximately three years old. This early start to dental disease can severely impact their overall health and wellbeing.
Studies have uncovered a link between periodontal disease and systemic diseases including heart disease in humans and this also seems to be true for our four-legged friends.
Periodontal disease in dogs has been linked to heart disease as a result of bacteria entering the bloodstream from the mouth, damaging heart function and also causing potential issues with other organs. These are on top of the more visible problems of pain brought on by eroded gums, and damaged, or missing teeth.
At-home oral health care routines combined with dental treats and diets can go a long way in helping your pooch clean their teeth, as well as control the buildup of plaque and tartar. Although, the best way to make sure your dog’s mouth remains clean and healthy is to take them to the vet for an annual dental exam and cleaning.
When you make your dog's annual dental exam a priority, our vets can be proactive in looking for early signs of periodontal disease, gingivitis, bad breath, tooth decay, gum loss, and pain. If you skip your dog's professional cleanings you could be putting them at risk of developing these conditions
What Can I Expect at My Dog's Dental Care Appointment?
To help prevent your dog from developing periodontal disease, our Kinston vets at Five Oaks Animal Hospital recommend bringing your dog in for a dental care exam at least once a year. During this visit, we will assess their mouth for early signs and symptoms of periodontal disease and other oral health conditions such as:
- Inflamed gums
- Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
- Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
- Pain associated with chewing
- Bleeding in or around the mouth
- Bad breath
- Discolored teeth
- Loose or broken teeth
If you see your pooch exhibiting any of the above symptoms you need to contact your vet immediately to book a dental assessment for your dog. If oral health problems are left untreated they can become severe and cause your pet a lot of pain and discomfort.
Our vets evaluate all pets to make sure they are healthy enough for anesthesia and implement additional diagnostics if needed to ensure that dental exams are safe for your pet. Once your furry companion is safely sedated, we'll conduct a full oral exam (tooth-by-tooth) with charting, (just like your dentist does during your examinations) and X-ray their teeth. X-rays are important because they allow our veterinary team to understand the degree of periodontal disease under the gum line which usually uncovers hidden disease.
When we have gathered all the information from the oral exam, charting, and X-rays, we will create a customized treatment plan for your pup that includes cleaning and polishing your pup’s teeth, both above and below the gum line.
How Do I Clean My Dog's Teeth and Mouth?
As a dog parent, you have a critical role in helping your pooch fight dental disease. Below are some easy ways you can help to keep your dog's teeth healthy and clean:
- Use a finger brush from your vet (or a child’s toothbrush) and specially designed dog toothpaste to brush your pup’s teeth every day 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 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.