Dog dentistry – everything you need to know
At Boundary Vets, we advise that your dog’s dental hygiene is just as important as any other routine and preventative treatment. Much like humans, dogs can develop a build-up of tartar, leading to tooth decay and gum disease.
Brushing your dog’s teeth once or twice a day is highly recommended and advised for good oral hygiene. We also have products such as liquids to add to their water to help reduce plaque build-up and reduce bad breath (halitosis), alongside veterinary dental diets. Here at Boundary Vets, our team would be happy to assist you with answering any questions you may have, as well as advising you on your dogs diets or the recommended products for your dog.
Symptoms of dental disease in dogs
Dogs can be very good at hiding signs of oral pain and dental disease. Some dogs with severe dental disease, including root exposure, severe gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), and tooth root infections, will continue to eat, showing only subtle signs that something is wrong. This can result in a dog having multiple teeth extracted at one time as opposed to one tooth extraction. Buildup of plaque and tarter will not be removed by teeth brushing alone if this is already present, the best action for this is a scale and polish to remove this, followed by tooth brushing to prevent the buildup reoccurring. A general anaesthesia is required for all dental procedures, however, having a routine scale and polish carried out to prevent dental disease from progressing is a hugely reduced anaesthetic time compared to multiple extractions being carried out.
Does your dog show signs of dental disease?
- bad breath (halitosis)
- visible tartar build-up on teeth
- red or inflamed gums (gingivitis)
- discoloured teeth
- loose teeth
- bleeding from the mouth
- slowness or reluctance to eat
- chewing on one side of the mouth
- dropping food from the mouth when eating
- swelling around the mouth (from potential tooth root abscesses).
How can this be prevented?
The best way to maintain healthy teeth is to brush your dog’s teeth daily. This is easiest to start when your dog is younger but can be introduced at any age. The Boundary Vets team would be happy to help with advice on introducing this to your dog.
It can also be beneficial to have a scale and polish performed regularly to clean the teeth thoroughly. This is similar to the treatment we would receive from a dental hygienist. These are done under a short general anaesthetic as dogs won’t sit in one position for a prolonged period and we must ensure both their safety and the team’s safety when in the vicinity of sharp teeth!
Why does dental disease occur?
Food and saliva that is left behind on the teeth will form plaque on the tooth. Plaque is soft and can be removed by brushing or using alternative dental products. If not removed, the plaque will harden forming tartar, which is difficult to remove without dentistry intervention. If tartar is not removed (normally via the scale and polish procedure) then bacteria will spread below the gumline, causing red sore gums. This is called gingivitis and periodontitis, which in turn can lead to lose teeth, infection of the tooth root and jawbone infections.