Gum disease and tooth decay are as much a problem for our canine companions as they are for us, and that's why caring for your dog's teeth is an important element of caring for your dog's overall health. Today our Monroe vets share some tips on how to keep your pup's teeth clean.
Do Dogs Really Need To Go To The Dentist?
In short: yes! Just like our own oral health, your dog's oral health is an essential element of their overall wellbeing. Most dogs begin showing signs of periodontal disease (gum disease) by the time they reach about 3 years old. This early start to dental issues can adversely impact their physical health down the road.
Studies have shown a link between periodontal disease and systemic conditions 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.
At-home oral health care habits paired with diets with dental health benefits and treats can go a long way to helping your dog 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 yearly wellness exam a priority, we are able to be proactive about signs of periodontal disease like gingivitis, bad breath, tooth decay, gum loss and pain.
What Happens During My Dog's Dental Checkup?
To help prevent your dog from developing periodontal disease, our Monroe vets recommend taking your dog for their annual wellness exam. During the visit, they will be examined for signs of oral disease. Signs of periodontal disease can include:
- Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
- Bleeding in or around the mouth
- Inflamed gums
- Pain associated with chewing
- Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
- Discoloured 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 anaesthesia, and conduct additional diagnostics if required to ensure that a dental 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.
Should I brush my 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.