Brushing a dog’s teeth may seem quite daunting to some, however, ensuring that a dog’s oral hygiene is at its best is crucial to its overall health. Brushing a dog’s teeth has numerous benefits, including providing a perfect opportunity to check the conditions of its teeth. While many people may find it challenging to wrap their heads around needing to brush their dog’s teeth or take them to a local dentist, it is necessary. Fortunately, dogs have toothpaste and toothbrushes made specifically for them.
There are many essential things to remember when looking after a dog’s oral hygiene. Dentist office visits can help pet owners who don’t know where to start. There are numerous advantages of starting while the dog is still young, but it is never too late to start. Here are some reasons why.
To Keep Their Mouths Smelling Fresh
Pet lovers know and understand the joy of petting and hugging their dogs. But bad breath can keep any animal lover away. While all pets usually have some foul smell in their mouths, there are times when it may indicate something more serious.
Bad breath is also known as halitosis and may result from various diseases and problems, such as gum disease, decaying teeth, lung disease, diabetes, or even a poor diet. In most cases, however, it results from plaque mixed with saliva. It’s best to consult a vet when your dog’s breath is suddenly sweeter or worse than it usually is.
To Reduce Plaque Build-up
The build-up of plaque in a dog’s mouth is inevitable. When dogs eat, food particles often get stuck in their teeth. If left for too long, it can be unhealthy for the dog’s oral hygiene. The plaque often becomes tartar when left for a long time which is much harder to eliminate. The build-up is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria which can eventually affect the gum line and teeth of the dog. Other than an annual veterinary check from the vet, it is crucial to brush the dog’s teeth regularly. Chewy toys and raw bones can also help prevent the build-up of tartar in the dog’s mouth.
To Lower Chances of Getting Periodontal Disease
While periodontal disease may sound strange, it is a fairly common condition. It refers to the inflammation of the gums and tissue surrounding a dog’s teeth and is a result of plaque build-up. When plaque builds up, it can lead to an inflammatory condition known as gingivitis.
This condition affects the periodontal ligaments and other supportive structures that support the teeth. No cure can reverse these effects once set. It is, therefore, advisable for dog owners to do their best to prevent it from occurring. The symptoms can go unnoticed until it is too late. Periodontal disease can cause pain, tooth loss, infections, mouth sores, and abscesses. In some cases, it may also impact some of the dog’s organs.
To Prevent Tooth Decay
One of the main consequences of improper oral care for a dog is tooth decay. The plaque build-up can lead to teeth decaying and substantially affect the dog’s health. Other than regular dental checkups, it is essential to check the teeth from time to time. Tooth decay worsens over time, and catching it earlier may help avoid more significant problems. Also, checking fractured teeth or other symptoms in the gums can help prevent tooth decay in the long run.
To Keep Them Looking Good
Any dog owner wants their beloved pet looking its best at all times. Taking care of oral hygiene is an important way of achieving that. Not only does improper oral hygiene cause bad breath in dogs, but it could also lead to discoloration and staining of the dog’s teeth. Believe it or not, dog teeth can turn yellow, brown, and even green when they aren’t brushed and cleaned regularly.
How to Know When Your Dog Needs Emergency Dental Care
There are many reasons a pet may need to go to an animal emergency clinic, such as broken bones, sudden nose bleed, difficulty breathing, complications during delivery, etc. While these emergency visits can be traumatic, they are necessary and could be the difference between death and life for a pet. However, a question that often arises is, what about dental emergencies? How do they work?
Even though a pet owner may know and understand why taking care of their pet’s oral hygiene is essential, it can still be challenging to determine emergency cases. While it may not always be evident that a dog needs emergency dental care, some alarming signs may signal the owner.
While a predetermined schedule generally determines a dental checkup, emergencies are not preplanned. A typical dental emergency is identified mainly by noticeable discomfort or pain in the dog, especially while it is using its mouth. It may be easier to notice some of these symptoms while the dog eats, plays, or interacts with people or other dogs. Some aggravated signs may include bleeding from the mouth, excessive drooling, or even pus coming out of the mouth. If your dog ever shows these symptoms, it should get emergency dental care as soon as possible. Other symptoms may include;
- Unusually foul breath
- When the dog constantly paws at its mouth
- When the dog makes unusual sounds when it eats or begins to eat strangely
- Loss of appetite or the dog refuses to take its favorite treats
- When the dog avoids any contact with the face. Signs include flinching or pulling away whenever the owner tries to pet them
- When the dog has any noticeable swelling or inflammation in its mouth
- If the dog starts to lose its adult teeth
- Decaying or broken teeth
- If the dog cannot close or open its mouth properly
- If the dog had sustained severe injuries or trauma around its head, face, and neck
- If the dog avoids playing with its favorite toys
- If the dog has gum pain due to sores, abscesses, inflammation, or infections
While many oral signs can help dog owners know whether their dogs need emergency dental care or not, not all dogs show any visible signs of physical discomfort. For this reason, pet owners must get their pets to a vet frequently to avoid severe issues in the long run.
Regular Dental Care for Your Dog
Many people don’t like visiting a local dentist, but it is necessary. There are cases where checkups result from an appointment, and in other cases, they may result from an emergency. Fortunately for dogs, dentist office visits aren’t frequent. Regular checks ensure the dog is in perfect health and prevent disease and other complications. When a dog goes for a checkup or deep cleaning, there are several factors the dentists consider;
- Age: Like humans, dogs begin to have more dental issues the older they become. Time has a way with things, including teeth. The dog also comes into contact with a lot more stuff and has probably settled into a lifestyle that could affect its teeth. Deep cleans are necessary, especially for dogs three years old or above.
- Size: A significant factor affecting the dog’s size is the breed. While younger dogs are typically smaller, dogs grow incredibly fast. Also, most dogs don’t undergo dental cleaning procedures before age six or seven, which is the primary determinant of their size and breed. Size plays a crucial role when it comes to dental cleaning. Smaller species need oral cleaning more frequently than larger dogs. One of the main reasons is that they often have overcrowding. It results from the size of their mouths and their tendency to hang on to their baby teeth. Overcrowding creates a perfect breeding ground for bacteria since getting rid of plaque and tartar is much more complex. Larger dogs have another problem which includes broken and cracked teeth. They tend to chew large bones, which can sometimes cause damage. Other dog breeds with smaller faces, such as bulldogs, may have deformed teeth, making it easier for tartar to hide. Regardless of the dog breed a person has, it is essential to ask the dentist how frequently they should have their teeth checked.
- Lifestyle: Diet plays a crucial role in a dog’s oral health. Dry food and regular cleaning can help keep the dog’s teeth healthy. Smaller dogs tend to chew much softer food which can aggravate dental conditions. Most dog owners typically brush their teeth regularly, keeping them in good shape. However, they may need a deep clean from a dentist every six to twelve months. These deep cleans are necessary to prevent tooth decay, periodontal disease, and other oral-related problems. For dental procedures, the dogs would typically need anesthesia. Dogs generally don’t sit still, and it would be dangerous for a stranger to poke their fingers into the dog’s mouth for a deep clean. However, the dog must undergo a thorough physical examination before deep cleaning. It is typically to determine the amount of anesthesia the dog can handle.
When Does a Dog Need to See a Dental Specialist?
While dogs may typically need dental care in emergencies or during their scheduled checkups, there are situations when the dog may require specialist care. Now that we’ve looked at the appropriate time to seek emergency dental care and the scheduled dental cleaning procedures, we can look at specialist care. Dogs can face many dental care issues, requiring specialist intervention. Some of these treatment processes include;
- Oral Surgery: There are many situations where dogs may need to undergo surgery. Some of these procedures may include; tooth extractions, cleft palate and other related defects, oral oncology, etc.
- Restorative Dentistry: Larger dogs often break or fracture their teeth. This procedure essentially involves dogs getting teeth fillings and crowning any damaged teeth. It virtually focuses on the repairing and reconstruction of teeth or roots.
- Gingivectomy: It is a procedure that involves the removal of diseased or overgrown gums through surgery
- Periodontal Flap Surgery: It is a process that prevents gum disease spread. The process involves getting rid of pockets or covering exposed roots.
- Tissue Regeneration Surgery: It is also a procedure that deals with gum disease. The process essentially makes the regeneration or regrowth of attachment and bone tissues. This procedure helps dogs with periodontal disease, which helps save their teeth and also prevents damage or fractures in the jaws.
- Endodontics: This process is known as root canal therapy. It is common when dogs have cavities or decaying teeth. The process focuses on the delicate tissue inside the teeth and is used to treat injured or diseased pulp.
- Orthodontics: Some situations require an orthodontist. Some dogs need corrective orthodontic procedures to help them bite and chew properly. The process essentially corrects malocclusions. If the problem is not solved, it could lead to more severe problems.
- Imaging: For some processes, dogs need imaging to allow dentists to rightly assess what may be the cause of their oral health problems. Some imaging procedures include; X-rays, cone beam computed tomography (CT), and many more. They are great tools that assist with accurate diagnosis and treatment plans.
Dog owners may seek the services of a dental specialist only if the situation is too complex for the primary vet. Typically dog owners only get to visit specialists through a referral from a vet for a second opinion or further assistance. The consultations will allow the specialist to determine the extent of the condition of the dog and the necessary treatment procedures. Another specialist, a primary vet, may send a pet owner to is a veterinary anesthesiologist. These specialists will assess all the risks that the dog may face while under anesthesia.
While there are many different oral dog care procedures and options, the owners decide what is best for their dogs. Oral care is essential and has so many valuable benefits. It can seem not very easy at first, especially for dog owners who have never tried it before, but with practice and dedication, both the owner and dog can get accustomed to it. Considering the numerous risks surrounding improper or lack of dental care for pets, it’s not worth ignoring.