Although dog owners usually visit their veterinarian for regular physical checkups, too often they neglect dental needs. Besides home care, a dog needs dental cleanings.
According to Pet Education.com oral disease is the top health concern for pets. Although dogs rarely get cavities, they’re more likely to develop gum disease from the buildup of excess tartar. Smaller dogs tend to have more tartar on their teeth than larger dogs.
Symptoms of Dog Dental Disease
- Visual symptoms – It’s easy to see tartar (calculus). While natural teeth are shiny and white to the gum-line, teeth with calculus have brown or yellow deposits, particularly near the gums.
- Gums – Healthy gums have a pale rose color, decreasing down to the edge at the point where the teeth begin. A bright red line where the gum and teeth meet is a sign that gum disease is starting. Also, a rounded edge also may suggest gum disease. If the problem isn’t treated a dog can quickly lose teeth.
- Bad breath – A dog’s foul breath is a sign bacteria is trapped in its mouth as even a mild accumulation of dental tartar causes breath to smell bad. As tartar continues to build up bacterial toxins can harm the gums.
Types of Canine Dental Problems
- Plaque – Plaque, which is made up of food, bacteria, and saliva sticking to teeth, is a transparent film that can be removed only by brushing or dental tools. If it gets below the gum line, it forms bacteria collecting pockets which damage the attachments holding teeth in place.
- Tartar –Tarter is a plaque that’s hardened. The most massive amounts of tartar are at the salivary gland duct openings at the most massive teeth known as the carnassials teeth, found on the upper jaw, as well as the inside molars and premolars which are on the lower jaw.
- Gingivitis – Gingivitis in redness or inflammation at the gum edges. If found soon enough the condition can be reversed.
- Periodontitis – Periodontitis or periodontal disease is a painful dental infection affecting gums and roots of teeth. Common signs of the disease are a dog’s gums becoming inflamed and red. It causes the gums to form bacteria pockets, resulting in a dog’s teeth loosening. Usually, a dog’s teeth need to be extracted for the problem to be treated.
Home Dental Care for Dogs
Owners need to brush their dogs’ teeth to remove excess plaque regularly. Always use pet toothpaste as toothpaste made for humans can hurt a dog’s stomach. Use toothbrushes specially designed for pets, which are softer, smaller and have a different shape. Dental sponges, which are softer than toothbrushes, are also useful. Other dental items for removing plaque include rawhide chips, dental bones, and rope toys.
Veterinarian Dental Cleanings
Most owners think their dogs get adequate dental care just by brushing their dogs’ teeth at home. Brushing removes plaque but can’t eliminate tartar.
Although home care is essential, dogs need to have tartar removed from their teeth professionally. This is done by a dental cleaning known as prophylaxis (prophy). First x-rays are taken to assess the general health of the dog’s teeth and mouth bones. While the dog is under anesthesia, his teeth are cleaned with scalers, removing all calculus. His teeth are also polished and inspected for gum disease. A dental agent is applied to slow down future plaque buildup.
Finally, make teeth brushing a time to bond with your dog. Before introducing a toothbrush, gently rub toothpaste to your dog’s teeth with your finger, using circular motions. Make sure you’re calm, speaking in a happy calm voice as often a dog can sense anxiety. When brushing is done, praise Fido, rewarding him with a dental bone.