Tooth decay and gum disease are as problematic and painful for dogs as they are for people. That's why cleaning your dog's teeth and professional dental care should be a part of your dog's annual preventive healthcare. Our Westfield vets explain how to clean your dog's teeth and provide ongoing routine dental care for your pup.
Is dental care for dogs really necessary?
Your dog's oral health is an essential element of their overall health and well-being. Our canine companions 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 clear 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 believed to be 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.
A good oral health care routine at home paired with dental treats, and professional dental cleanings can go a long way towards controlling the buildup of plaque and tartar and preventing tooth decay.
Neglecting annual professional cleaning could put your pup at risk of developing gingivitis, periodontal disease, bad breath, and in severe cases pain, tooth decay and tooth loss.
Are there risks involved with professional dental care for dogs?
Whenever your pet undergoes a procedure that involves anesthesia there are risks involved. That's why our vets assess all pets to ensure that they are healthy enough to handle anesthesia and we conduct additional diagnostics if required to ensure that a dental exam while anesthetized is safe for your four-legged friend.
What will happen during my dog's dental cleaning appointment?
To help prevent your pooch from developing tooth decay and periodontal disease, our Westfield vets at Westfield Animal Hospital recommend bringing your dog in for a dental appointment at least once each year, or more frequently if your canine companion is suffering from more severe or recurring dental problems.
When you bring your dog to Westfield 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 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 pet 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 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 you can expect your pooch 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.
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.
Should I brush my dog's teeth?
Pet owners often ask us how to clean their dog's mouth. Here are a few easy ways that you can help to keep your dog's mouth 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. It's as simple as brushing your own teeth. If your dog resists having their teeth cleaned try some doggie toothpaste in flavors your pooch will find irresistible. These special toothpaste can turn 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.