Gum disease and tooth decay can be very problematic for dogs, making it essential to take care of their oral health. Here, our Mooresville vets explain the importance of routine veterinary dental exams and cleanings for dogs and how you can help keep your pup's mouth clean at home.
The Importance of Dental Care For Dogs
Your dog's oral health is an essential component of their overall health and wellbeing. Dogs often start exhibiting signs of periodontal disease (gum disease) by the time they reach around 3 years old. This early start to dental disease can have serious negative impacts on their long-term health.
Studies have shown a connection between periodontal disease and heart disease in humans and this appears to also be true for our canine companions.
The link between heart disease and periodontal disease in dogs is the result of bacteria entering the bloodstream from the mouth, damaging heart function and causing problems with other organs. These health issues are in addition to the more obvious problem of pain caused by eroded gums, and missing or damaged teeth.
At-home oral health care routines combined with dental treats can go a long way to helping your pup's mouth stay clean and controlling the buildup of plaque and tartar. Nonetheless, the best way to ensure that your pup’s mouth stays clean and healthy is to take your dog to the vet every year for a dental exam and hygiene cleaning.
Neglecting annual professional cleanings could put your dog at risk of developing gingivitis, periodontal disease, bad breath, and in severe cases pain, tooth decay and tooth loss.
The Risks of Getting Your Dog's Teeth Cleaned
Any procedure performed under anesthesia comes with risks, this is why our vets assess all pets, to ensure they are healthy enough to handle anesthesia. We will conduct additional diagnostics if required to ensure that a dental exam while anesthetized is safe for your furry companion.
What To Expect At Your Dog's Dental Cleaning Appointment
To help prevent your dog from developing tooth decay and periodontal disease, our vets at Lake Norman at Mooresville Animal Hospital recommend bringing your dog in for a dental appointment at least once a year, or more frequently if they are suffering from more severe or recurring oral health issues.
When you bring your dog to see us for a dental checkup, our vets will perform a full oral examination for your pup and check for signs of dental issues, such as:
- Bad breath
- Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
- Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
- Discolored teeth
- Swelling or pain in or around the mouth
- Loose or
- Broken teeth
- Bleeding around the mouth
If you detect symptoms of periodontal disease in your pet, such as reduced appetite (which can be an indication of 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 pup a great deal of pain and discomfort.
Once your pet is safely sedated, we will perform a full tooth-by-tooth examination, complete with charting, (just like your dentist does during your examinations).
While we have your dog safely and comfortably under anesthesia, we 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 dog is suffering from advanced periodontal disease, we will work with you to establish the best possible treatment plan to help restore your dog's mouth to a pain-free and healthy state.
A Dog's Recovery After Having Their Teeth Cleaned
All dogs are different but you can expect your pup to start recovering from the anesthetic within a few hours, however in some cases, it can take 24-48 hours to fully recover. During this time, your dog may seem drowsy and have a reduced appetite.
The Cost of Having Your Dogs Teeth Cleaned
The cost of your dog's dental cleaning will depend on a number of factors including the size of your dog, the condition of your dog's teeth, where you live, and your individual vet. Contact your vet to get an accurate estimate for having your dog's teeth cleaned.
That said, more invasive and expensive procedures - and surgeries - could be avoided with regular veterinary dental care. Regular care will allow your vet to take proactive steps to help avoid advanced tooth decay and gum disease that can lead to pain, tooth loss, and jaw deterioration.
How To Clean Your Dog's Teeth At-Home
As a pet owner, you have a key role in helping your dog fight dental disease. Here are a few easy ways that you can help keep your dog's mouth healthy and clean their teeth:
- 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. It's a simple as brushing your own teeth. If your dog resists having their teeth cleaned try some doggie toothpaste in flavors your furry friend will love. These special toothpaste can turn a chore into a treat.
- 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 dog's gums and teeth. 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.