Tooth decay and gum disease are as common and painful in dogs as they are in humans. As a result, caring for your dog's teeth is an essential part of caring for your pup's overall health. Our O’Fallon veterinarians explain how to clean a dog's mouth and keep your pup's teeth in good shape.
Is dog dental care really necessary?
Your dog's oral health is an essential element of their overall well-being. Dogs often begin showing signs of periodontal disease (gum disease) by the time they reach about 3 years of age. This early start to dental disease can have serious negative consequences for their long-term health.
In humans, studies have shown a link between periodontal disease and heart disease and this appears to hold true for our pets as well.
The link between heart disease and periodontal disease in dogs is due to bacteria entering the bloodstream from the mouth, damaging heart function, and causing issues 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 help your dog keep their teeth clean and control plaque and tartar buildup. However, the best way to keep your dog's mouth clean and healthy is to take him to the vet for an annual dental exam and hygiene cleaning.
Neglecting annual dental 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 are the risks of dog teeth cleaning?
Any procedure performed under anesthesia carries risks, which is why our veterinarians evaluate all pets to ensure that they are healthy enough to handle anesthesia and perform additional diagnostics as needed to ensure that a dental exam while anesthetized is safe for your pet.
What will happen during my dog's dental cleaning appointment?
In order to help prevent your dog from developing tooth decay and periodontal disease, our O’Fallon vets at Gentle Doctor Animal Hospital recommend bringing your dog in for a dental appointment at least once each year, or more frequently if they are suffering from more severe or recurring dental problems.
When you bring your dog to Gentle Doctor Animal Hospital for a dental checkup our vets will perform a full oral examination for your pooch and check for signs of dental issues, such as:
- Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
- Bleeding around the mouth
- Swelling or pain in or around the mouth
- Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
- Discolored teeth
- Loose or
- Broken teeth
- Bad breath
If you notice signs of periodontal disease in your pet, such as decreased appetite (which can indicate tooth pain), abnormal chewing, drooling, dropping food from the mouth, bad breath, or other symptoms, contact your veterinarian right away to schedule a dental appointment for your pet. If left untreated, oral health problems can become severe, causing your pet a great deal of pain and discomfort.
After your pet is safely sedated, your vet 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 pooch 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.
How long does it take for a dog to recover from teeth cleaning?
All dogs are different. But what you can expect after teeth cleaning is for your dog to begin recovering from the anesthetic within a few hours, although 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.
How much does dog teeth cleaning cost?
The cost of dog dental cleaning varies widely due to 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.
However, with regular veterinary dental care, more invasive and costly procedures - and surgeries - could be avoided. Regular care will enable your veterinarian to take preventative measures to help avoid advanced tooth decay and gum disease, which can cause pain, tooth loss, and jaw deterioration.
Should I brush my dog's teeth?
As a pet owner, you play an important role in assisting your dog in fighting dental disease. Here are a few simple ways you can help keep your dog's mouth healthy and clean his teeth:
- Brush your pet's teeth daily with a finger brush from your vet or a child's toothbrush to remove any plaque or debris. It's as straightforward as brushing your own teeth. If your dog is resistant to having its teeth cleaned, try some doggie toothpaste in flavors that your dog will love. These dog-friendly toothpaste can transform a chore into a treat.
- 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.
- Offer your pup treats such as dental chews or food 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 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.