Without appropriate dental care, your dog's teeth will decay and disease will gain a foothold. In this post, our Groton vets share a few reasons why dog dental care is so important to their health.
Dog Dental Care
Imagine if you decide to stop brushing your teeth. Your mouth would likely start feeling uncomfortable and unclean after a few days from plaque buildup around your teeth and under your gum line. You may have a bad taste in your mouth and your breath would probably not smell the best. In the long-term, your dentist would likely end up needing to treat you for one or more dental diseases.
For our dogs, the same is true. For our canine companions, dental care isn't optional, it's a necessity to preserve their oral and overall health.
Without appropriate dental care, dogs are prone to dental disease. These issues are quite common — by age 3, most dogs have some type of dental disease (also known as periodontal disease). Dental disease in dogs can have a serious impact long-term, so preserving their overall health with consistent dog dental care is imperative.
Dental Disease in Dogs
Dental disease can impact the health, comfort and function of your dog's mouth including their teeth, gums and any supporting structures. Plaque, a substance that is composed of food particles and bacteria, will start to accumulate on their teeth. If this plaque isn't brushed or washed away with dog-friendly oral treatments like tooth brushing every day, ti hardens into a calculus (also called tartar). Tartar above the gumline will be easily visible and can be removed by your veterinarian with ease during a professional teeth cleaning appointment.
However, just because your dog's teeth are sparkling white doesn't mean all is well. Tartar that gets under the gumline is a real issue since it damages the supportive structures of the teeth and causes infection and inflammation. This is where serious dental issues, pain and other symptoms become a problem.
Signs of dental problems in dogs include:
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Fractured teeth
- Bleeding or painful mouth
- Inability or refusal to eat or drink
Why is dog dental care important?
All dog owners want their dogs to have excellent oral health. Here are the following 5 reasons why attentive dental care for your dog is so important for their overall health and well-being.
1. Preventing teeth from falling out
If the structures surrounding your dog's teeth become infected or damaged, this will eventually lead to loose and missing teeth. With good dog dental care, you can help to make sure that these supportive structures remain healthy and that the teeth remain in place.
2. Preventing pain in the mouth
Serious dental disease (or dental disease caught at any of its stages) can be quite painful for dogs. Preventing oral pain and making sure your pooch's teeth keep functioning properly can be critically to helping to keep your dog's teeth and gums healthy.
3. Preventing bad breath
Halitosis or bad breath is a common problem for dogs, but it's actually a sign of dental disease. While a mild odor is normal, a strong smell of fish, poop, acetone, urine, garbage, sewer or other scent can indicate trouble such as an infection or buildup of bacteria. When your dog's teeth and mouth are healthy, very bad breath won't be an issue.
4. Preventing gum disease from progressing
Many dogs have periodontal disease by the time they are just 3 years old. That said, diligent dog dental care can keep dental disease from progressing and causing problems in the rest of the body.
5. Preventing organ damage
As referenced above, dental disease may cause organ damage as a result of bacteria in plque entering the bloodstream, traveling to the health and spreading to other organs in your dog's body like their kidneys or liver.
This can quickly lead to dogs becoming severely ill. Good oral hygiene prevents the spread of bacteria and subsequent organ damage (along with expensive procedures to correct these problems).
How can I remove plaque from my dog's teeth?
Annual professional dental exams and cleanings are important, but appropriate dental care for your dog also involves at-home maintenance. Here are a few things to add to your at-home routine to help your dog keep healthy teeth:
- Brush your dog's teeth. Taking time to brush your dog's teeth a few times each week is an excellent way to maintain great oral health. Use a dog-safe toothpaste and toothbrush.
- Give your dog durable dental toys to clean their teeth and freshen breath. These toys are designed to stand up to your dog's chewing.
- Provide dental treats. While not all dogs like their teeth brushed or will get used to it easily, you can try dog dental treats.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. If you are concerned about your pet's health, contact your veterinarian right away for diagnosis and treatment.