Improper oral hygiene leading to tooth decay and gum disease are just as big of an issue for our pets, as it is for people. Our New Iberia vets are here to give you some tips to help keep your dog's teeth clean to prevent serious conditions from developing.
Is dog dental care really necessary?
Your dog's oral health is no different than your own, it is essential for helping maintain their overall health. Many dogs will start showing indications of periodontal disease (gum disease) by the time they turn three years old. This early start to dental disease can adversely impact their physical health and wellbeing.
Studies have shown a link between periodontal disease and systemic diseases such as heart disease in humans and this appears to hold true for our canine companions as well.
Periodontal disease in dogs is connected with heart disease because bacteria enters the bloodstream from the mouth, causing damage to the heart's functions and likely also causes issues in other organs. These issues are on top of the more obvious problem which is pain caused by eroded gums and missing or damaged teeth.
At-home oral health care routines paired with dental diets and treats 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 look 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 will happen during my dog's dental care appointment?
To help prevent your dog from developing periodontal disease, our New Iberia vets at All Creatures Veterinary Hospital 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:
- Inflamed gums
- Bleeding in or around the mouth
- Pain associated with chewing
- Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
- Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
- Discolored teeth
- Loose or broken teeth
- Bad breath
If you've noticed any of the signs of periodontal disease in your pet, make sure to get in contact with your vet right away to book a dental exam 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 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 tip about how to clean your dog's teeth and mouth:
- 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.