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Dog Dentistry/Dental - The Role of Dental Care in Dogs' Overall Health

It is important to realize that your dog will never tell you when he or she is experiencing dental pain. All dogs will endure some level of dental disease and dental pain during their lives. The best way to minimize these issues is for your dog is to start out with a great dental health routine at home. This should be supplemented with regular dental cleanings performed by veterinary professionals (a veterinarian and veterinary nurse to aid in the dental cleaning and care during the procedure).

How does dental health impact the overall health of my dog?

Dental health plays a big part in your dog's health. You can even kind of relate it to human health. You brush your teeth twice a day and go to the dentist at least once a year. Most people don't brush their dog's teeth daily, if at all, and they don't go to the dentist every year. Think about how nasty your teeth would be, so it plays a big part in the dog's overall health.

Dr. Ben Larson
Berry Farms Animal Hospital - Cupola Animal Hospitals

How can I care for my dog's teeth at home?

The best thing you can do, and it's also the most time-consuming, is going to be brushing your dog's teeth daily. If we're not brushing daily, then there's really no point in doing it at all just because that's how long it takes for that plaque to harden up is 24 hours. So again, if we're not doing it every day, it's kind of pointless. There are dental chews that you can use. There are water additives, and then there are dental diets that also help with the dog's mouth.

What are some signs and symptoms of dental disease in dogs?

So the first sign of dental disease is halitosis or bad breath, and that's usually the first one people notice. They may not want to eat or be eating on one side of their mouth or even drop food if they have a tooth hurting them. They also could be a bit irritable or sensitive around their mouth because it hurts.

If your dog displays any of the following symptoms, you should schedule a veterinary appointment ASAP:

  • Bad breath/halitosis
  • Problems eating, loss of appetite (only in the most severe cases)
  • Red, swollen, or bleeding gums (usually the molars in the back of the mouth)
  • Loose, broken, or missing teeth
  • Blood in saliva or nasal discharge
  • Lesions in the mouth

Should you notice any of these symptoms, schedule a veterinary appointment right away.

What are some of the common dental diseases in dogs?

Gingivitis is one and that causes all that plaque on their teeth. They can have some tumors in their mouths or on their tongue, and they can even just have proliferative kind of growth right there from chronic dental diseases as well. That's why it's essential to keep track of your dog's dental care.

Why is early detection and diagnosis of dental diseases so important?

It's critical to detect dental disease early so that it doesn't progress because, if it does progress, then that's when you may have to extract some teeth. Your dog may have to be on antibiotics. We may have to do more invasive procedures to get them over that dental disease that they have. Preventative care's the best-case scenario, as you prevent all that from happening.

How often should my dog's teeth be checked?

Your dog should be checked at least once a year by your veterinarian. And, at that point, your veterinarian can dictate the path to go down, whether it's a dental cleaning, a new means of preventative care, another water additive, a different chew, or whatever it may be.

What A Veterinarian Is Looking For During A Dog Dentistry Examination

During an oral exam, a veterinarian looks for any signs of abnormality or ill health. Veterinarians are trained to spot many different symptoms, including:

  • Overbite, underbite, malocclusion, and teeth that don't fit together
  • Gingivitis and periodontal disease
  • Facial swelling
  • Tartar buildup
  • Fractured or broken teeth
  • Cavities
  • Abscesses

Our veterinarians will develop a customized plan of prevention or treatment based on what is found during the doggie dental exam at your next visit.

What is a professional dental cleaning like for a dog?

It's pretty similar to a dental cleaning that we would have. The dog will come in; we'll do some lab work on them just to make sure they're all safe and healthy, and then like I was saying with humans, we have that ultrasonic cleaner. We'll do the same thing with our dogs. And at that point, we'll determine if any teeth need to be taken out, assess your dog's overall oral health, and correspond with you on the following path to go down. X-rays may be needed on the mouth, so we either take an affected tooth out or, if your dog's mouth is healthy, then we'll just get it all cleaned up, and they're ready to go that same day.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (615) 224-7776, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.

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