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Dog Dental Care - How to Clean Your Dog's Teeth

Periodontal disease and tooth decay aren't just painful for dogs, they can also negatively impact your dog's overall health. That's dental care should be a part of your dog's routine preventive care. Here our Bartlett vets share tips on how to keep your dog's teeth clean and healthy.

Does my dog really need professional dental care?

Your dog's oral health is an essential element of their overall wellbeing. 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. 

Human studies have shown a link between periodontal disease and heart disease and this link appears to also be true for our canine companions.

The link between heart disease and periodontal disease in dogs and people 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 problems such as pain caused by eroded gums, and missing or damaged teeth.

Dog oral health care routines at home, paired with high-quality dental treats, can go a long way to helping your dog keep their teeth clean and control the buildup of plaque and tartar. Nonetheless, the best way to ensure that your pup’s mouth stays clean and healthy is to take your dog to the vet for an annual dental exam and hygiene cleaning

Neglecting annual dental cleaning for your dog could put your pup at risk of developing gingivitis, periodontal disease, bad breath, and in severe cases pain, tooth decay, tooth loss, and even jaw bone deterioration.

What's involved in dog dental appointments? 

To help prevent your dog from developing tooth decay and periodontal disease, our vets at Hillcrest Animal Hospital in Bartlett 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 Hillcrest Animal Hospital for a dental checkup our vets will perform a full oral examination for your pup watching 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 your pup is showing symptoms of periodontal diseases, 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.

Our veterinary team assesses all pets to ensure that they are healthy enough to handle anesthesia and conduct additional diagnostics if required to ensure that a dental exam while anesthetized is safe for your pet. 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 your dog is safely and comfortably under anesthesia, your pet's dentist will thoroughly clean and polish your dog's teeth, both above and below the gum line. We will 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.

Should I brush my dog's teeth?

Dog owners play an essential role in helping dogs fight dental disease. Learning how to clean a dog's mouth, and protect the health of their teeth could help to save you money on professional canine dental care later. Here are a few easy ways that you can help to keep your dog's mouth healthy and how to clean your dog's teeth:

  • 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 a 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 toothpastes 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.

Is it time to have your dog's teeth examined or cleaned? Contact our Bartlett vets today to book a dental appointment for your canine companion. 

Smiling german shepherd with nice healthy teeth, covering one eye with paw - Bartlett Memphis

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