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

Caring for your dog's teeth is an important part of their oral and overall health. In today's post, our Cordova vets explain how you can help your pup achieve and maintain their optimal oral health. 

Does my dog really need a dental appointment?

Keeping your dog's mouth clean is essential to their overall well-being, but most dogs don't receive the dental health care they need to keep their teeth and gums healthy.

In fact, our Cordova vets often see dogs developing 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. 

Just as in humans, there have been links found between periodontal disease and heart disease in dogs. This 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 problem of pain caused by eroded gums, and missing or damaged teeth.

The best way to ensure your dog maintains their oral health is to combine at-home dental care with an annual professional dental exam.  

Neglecting professional dental cleanings could put your dog at risk of developing gingivitis, periodontal disease, bad breath, and in severe cases pain, tooth decay, and tooth loss.

How can I tell if my dog has a dental issue?

It isn't always easy to spot early signs of dental health issues in dogs, however, if you notice any of the following it is time to arrange an appointment with your vet:

  • Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
  • Bleeding around the mouth
  • Swelling or pain in or around the mouth
  • Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
  • Excess drooling or blood in drool 
  • Discolored teeth
  • Loose or broken teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Dropping food
  • Chewing on one side

What happens during a dog dental cleaning appointment?

In order to help prevent your dog from developing tooth decay and periodontal disease, our Cordova vets recommend taking your dog for a dental appointment at least once each year, or more frequently if they are suffering from more severe or recurring dental problems.

At your pet's dental appointment, your pet will be safely sedated and your vet will perform a full tooth-by-tooth examination and thorough cleaning of your dog's teeth, both above and below the gum line. They will take X-rays to look for any further dental issues and then finish off the appointment by applying a fluoride treatment and dental sealant to strengthen the teeth and prevent plaque buildup. 

If your dog is suffering from advanced periodontal disease, your vet 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 pup 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. 

Are there risks involved in dog teeth cleaning?

Any procedure performed under anesthesia comes with risks that's why your vet will assess your pet to ensure that they are healthy enough to handle anesthesia. Your vet may conduct additional diagnostics to ensure that a dental exam while anesthetized is safe for your pet.

Should I brush my dog's teeth?

Dog owners play an essential role in helping their pets to fight dental disease. Here are a few easy ways that you can help to keep your dog's mouth clean at home:

  • 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 best if you start this process when your dog is a puppy to get them used to the process. There are also dog toothpaste options that come in flavors like beef or chicken that can help make the process more enjoyable for your dog. 
  • 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.
  • Look for toys that promote dental health. 

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.

At Memphis Veterinary Specialists, our board-certified veterinary dentist provides a range of dental services. Contact us today to learn more or speak to your vet about a referral. 

From Happy Pet Owners

  • “Forever thankful to kind, sweet, gentle, wonderful Dr. Tina Brown. Our 3 year old girl has been sick for months, but after one month she is back to feeling her happy, playful self again. It feels wonderful to have such an excellent support system in place when I need help.”
    Dale C.

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