What Do I Need To Know About Dental Care For My Dog?
It is important to realize that your dog will never tell you when it is experiencing dental pain. All dogs will endure some level of dental disease and dental pain during their lives. The best way to minimize these issues is for your dog is to start out with a great dental health routine at home. That is why it is important that all dogs see a veterinarian annually to assess their oral health.
Proper dental care at home consists of daily brushing. Just as with humans, dogs need the plaque and biofilm removed from their teeth on a daily basis to avoid dental disease. The vast majority of dogs will accept daily brushing by their owners. We are here to teach you how to brush your dog's teeth and provide you with the best brush and dental paste according to your dog's size and flavor preference. It can be a bonding experience for owners to brush their dog's teeth and the dog may come to really enjoy the process. However, not every dog will tolerate and not every person is willing or able to brush their dog's teeth, we can work with you to find the next best solution for home care.
The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) lists many dog diets and treats that can be helpful if your dog will not tolerate brushing. These approved diets and treats provide some supplemental dental care. However, just as humans require regular dental care to maintain proper dental health, it takes more than a chew toy to properly care for your canine companion's mouth, gums, and teeth.
During your regular veterinary visits, we will examine your dog's teeth and will show you the obvious lesions that need to be addressed. We are most concerned with signs of gingivitis, broken teeth, periodontal disease, and other painful dental and oral lesions. Our doctors may recommend a veterinary supervised dental cleaning.
Dog Bad Breath, A Sign Of Things To Come
Some people think that dog bad breath is a trait inherent to the canine species. This is a myth that dogs themselves have contributed to over the years through behaviors including drinking from the toilet, eating feces, and self-grooming habits. However, these practices alone do not account for dog bad breath. Dog bad breath is generally a result of the bacteria that live in the infected gum and dental tissue in your dog's mouth. This odor is a sign of progressive dental disease. It will not get better without a thorough veterinary dental cleaning and a proper home care plan.
What Are Some Signs And Symptoms Of Dental Disease In Dogs?
- Plaque build-up
- Periodontal disease
- Tooth loss
- Mouth sores and ulcers
- And, like in humans, this can lead to kidney, liver, and heart disease
Bad breath can sometimes be the only symptom of dental problems that you are at all likely to observe in your dog. If your dog has noticeable bad breath, you should schedule a dental exam with your veterinarian. However, in severe cases you may also notice one of the following symptoms:
- Pawing at the mouth
- Problems eating, loss of appetite
- Red, swollen, bleeding gums
- Loose, broken, missing teeth
- Blood in saliva or nasal discharge
- Lesions in mouth
Your dog may very well have dental issues that require attention and NOT show any of the symptoms listed above. However, if any of the above symptoms are observed, please schedule a veterinary appointment right away.
What Is Proper Dental Hygiene For Your Dog's Teeth?
There are several ways to ensure proper dog dental care. All of them involve diligence and commitment from you as a dog owner. Your canine friend will not tell you if he or she needs dental care, so it is up to you to proactively address their needs.
- Good nutrition is the foundation for good dental health
- When possible establish a dog teeth cleaning routine when your dog is young
- Schedule annual exams for dog
- Watch for signs of possible dental issues such as bad breath
- Tell your vet during the checkup about any behaviors you've noticed, or concerns you have
- Early prevention is extremely important to avoiding or treating serious dental issues
Proper dog teeth cleaning consists of an oral exam in order to properly diagnose any dental disease that may be present. Most of the dental disease in dogs is under the gum line.
Other dental issues in dogs include gingivitis and periodontal disease that may require medication and or dental work to alleviate the pain. The importance of annual exams cannot be underestimated. In order to remain healthy, dog dental care is something you should trust with your veterinarian.
How Often Is It Necessary To Clean A Dog's Teeth?
The recommended frequency of cleaning your dog's teeth depends upon several factors such as:
- existence of other health conditions
Regardless of signs or symptoms, your dog should have a dental checkup annually at a minimum. While you should be looking at your dog's teeth periodically yourself, it is easy to miss the types of problem signs that a trained and experienced veterinarian will pick up on. It is significantly easier to address and resolve dental issues that are spotted early, compared to dental issues that go unnoticed and are allowed to further develop. Therefore, a proactive approach to feline dentistry is recommended.
Many dogs will allow you to brush their teeth. You should brush your dog's teeth daily with specially designed brushes and canine hygiene products. Our technicians are trained to provide instructions on how you can brush your dog's teeth at home. Let us work with you to ensure the best possible dental health for your dog.
The Harsh Reality Of Periodontal Disease In Dogs
Gum disease, also known as gingivitis and can become periodontal disease if it spreads into the tooth. Periodontal disease in dogs is the most common clinical condition occurring in adult canines. By three years of age, most dogs have some evidence of periodontal disease. Unfortunately, other than bad breath, there are few signs of periodontal disease in dogs evident to dog owners and professional diagnosis often comes too late to prevent extensive damage. Periodontal disease in dogs, if left untreated, will lead to infected, non-viable teeth and significant dental pain.
However, we cannot overstate the fact that periodontal disease in dogs is fully preventable. The way to successfully do so is to schedule annual dog dental exams and dog teeth cleaning appointments with your veterinary dog dentist. By doing so, you are ensuring that your canine companion remains at low risk for developing periodontal disease.
What Does A Dog Dental Cleaning Look Like?
The dog dental care services provided here at Veterinary Village begins with an examination by one of our veterinarians. If dental issues are found in your dog's mouth, our veterinarian will explain the situation to you and recommend the appropriate dental procedure. During this procedure, once your dog is sedated, our veterinarians are able to conduct a more thorough exam including visualizing the entire oral cavity and throat area, probing gingival pockets to assess periodontal disease, and take dental x-rays. It is important to remember that half of the tooth is under the gum line. Therefore, it is imperative that x-rays are performed to complete the assessment of the tooth. Quite often a tooth may look completely normal but the roots are abscessed and a great source of pain for your dog. We utilize all the tools necessary to make sure your dog is completely free of dental disease and pain.
Our veterinarians use a comprehensive 6-Step protocol when performing a standard dog dental treatment. This protocol can be amended depending upon factors including preexisting medical conditions, or based on information gleaned during the examination itself. However, for reference, our dog dental treatment protocol includes:
- General anesthesia, which is necessary in all cases for us to do a thorough dental examination and professional cleaning. We use only the safest anesthesia protocols and human quality products. Your dog will be continually monitored during the entire procedure and post-procedure for the safest and most comfortable experience.
- A complete dental exam will be performed before we begin any dental procedure. Dental radiographs are taken at this time. Dental radiology allows our veterinarians to view the internal anatomy of the teeth including the roots and surrounding bone. A thorough dental chart is used to record the dental health of your dog, and any procedures done during the dental cleaning.
- Ultrasonic and hand scaling to remove plaque and tartar above and below the gum line. A thorough scaling below the gum line is critical to the success of any dental cleaning, as this is where illness-causing bacteria hide.
- Polishing to smooth the surface of the teeth after scaling, making them resistant to additional plaque formation.
- Flushing to remove dislodged tartar, plaque, and bacteria from the mouth.
- If it is determined that an infected tooth requires extraction, or there is a problem with the gums that must be addressed, then and only then will oral surgery be recommended.
Oral Surgery For Dogs
If oral surgery is necessary, it can provide your canine companion with a new lease on life. In these cases, your dog is dealing with significant pain and is compensating for it in a variety of ways. Our veterinary staff is capable of resolving a variety of oral maladies, including:
- Gingival surgery - including tumor removal and removal of excessive gum tissue secondary to periodontal disease
- Extensive extractions of impacted or damaged teeth
- Oral tumor removal
The cost of dog tooth extraction is based on the type of procedure performed and may include hospitalization, anesthesia, painkiller medication, x-rays, and surgical supplies. Therefore, it's best to always take preventive measures to avoid surgeries and dog tooth extraction procedures.
How Do I Schedule My Dog's Dental Appointment?
Scheduling an appointment with one of our veterinarians is as easy as picking up the phone, or sending us an email. Our veterinary staff is here to help make your dog's dentistry appointment easy for you while making it as painless and pleasant as possible for your canine companion.