Just like their humans, dogs can suffer the negative effects of gum disease and tooth decay. That's why it's critical to care for your dog's teeth as part of your canine companion's overall health. In this post, our vets in Baltimore list tips for keeping your pooch's teeth clean and their mouth healthy.
Is dog dental care important?
Our dogs' oral health is closely linked to their general health. Were you aware that most dogs begin to show signs of gum disease (periodontal disease) by the time they turn three years old? Dental disease can begin at an early age and may have serious consequences for a dog's overall physical health and well-being.
In studies of people, periodontal disease has lead to heart disease as a result of bacteria entering the bloodstream from the mouth. While this can damage the heart, it can also cause problems with other organs. Along with the more immediate issue of pain caused by missing or damaged teeth and eroded gums, organ damage can have long-term impacts.
While gum disease is serious, it is not inevitable. The best way to ensure your dog's mouth stays healthy and clean is to team up with your vet to maintain your dog's oral health. Practicing a consistent and effective at-home oral health care routine that incorporates dental treats can help keep your dog's teeth white, and control plaque and tartar buildup.
You'll also want to schedule annual dental exams and cleanings at your vet's office. Skipping this essential step can leave your dog at risk for gingivitis, bad breath, periodontal disease and in even more severe cases pain in the mouth, tooth decay and even tooth loss.
What will happen during my dog’s dental care appointment?
Our vets in Baltimore can help prevent your dog from developing tooth decay and periodontal disease. We recommend scheduling an annual dental appointment for your dog. They may need to see your pet more frequently if they are experiencing recurring or more severe dental issues.
When you bring your dog to Paws and Claws, for a dental checkup, our vets will perform a complete oral examination for your pooch and look for signs of dental problems such as:
- Swelling or pain in or around the mouth
- Bad breath
- Discolored teeth
- Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
- Loose or broken teeth
- Bleeding around the mouth
- Extra or retained baby teeth
If you detect symptoms of periodontal disease in your pet, such as reduced appetite (which could indicate 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.
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 exam while sedated 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).
While we have your dog safely and comfortably under anesthesia, our team 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 pup 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.
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 to brush your pet’s teeth daily to remove any plaque or debris.
- Offer your pup treats such as dental chews or food designed to help prevent plaque buildup and tartar.
- 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.
- Dental care 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.