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Dog Dental Cleaning: What You Should Know

Tooth decay and gum disease can become an issue for dogs early in life if they do not have a proper oral hygiene routine. In today's post, our New York vets discuss dog dental cleaning, veterinary dentistry and dental care for your pup.

Is dog dental care really necessary?

Your dog's oral health can contribute or detract from their overall well-being. Dogs often start to show signs of periodontal disease (gum disease) by the time they reach about 3 years old. This early onset of dental disease can have serious implications for their long-term health. 

Human studies have revealed a link between periodontal disease and heart disease. This seems to hold true for our pets. The link between heart disease and periodontal disease for dogs is due to bacteria making its way into the bloodstream from the mouth. This can lead to heart damage and cause issues with other organs in the body. In addition, painful symptoms caused by missing or damaged teeth and eroded gums can also arise. 

Pairing an excellent at-home oral healthcare routine with dental treats and regular visits to our vet clinic for dental care can help your pup keep their teeth clean and control the accumulation of plaque and tartar. Nonetheless, the best way to keep your dog's mouth clean and healthy is to bring your dog to the vet. At our New York veterinary clinic, we offer veterinary dental services such as annual dental exams and hygiene cleaning. 

Neglecting those regular cleanings at home and annual professional cleanings with a veterinarian could leave your dog at risk of developing gingivitis, bad breath, periodontal disease, and in severe cases, tooth pain, decay and loss. 

Should I be cleaning my dog's teeth?

As a pet owner, you play an essential role in helping your dog fight dental disease. 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:

  • Make daily tooth brushing a part of your dog's at-home health routine. 
  • 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.

Why does my dog need professional teeth cleaning?

While maintaining an at-home oral care routine (and potentially supplementing it with dental chews or treats) is an important step in preventing plaque and tartar buildup, seeing the vet regularly for a professional cleaning is the best way to ensure your dog’s mouth stays clean and healthy.

Without this annual cleaning, teeth can become covered with plaque, which can lead to bad breath, gingivitis and eventually periodontal disease, tooth decay and tooth loss. This can also have severe consequences for your pup’s overall health, as periodontal disease may lead to heart disease (when bacteria enters the bloodstream through the mouth, it can infect other organs).

What will happen during my dog's professional teeth cleaning?

Veterinary dentistry is an essential element of your dog's preventive healthcare. To keep tooth decay and periodontal disease from developing in your dog, our vets in New York recommend booking your dog's dental appointment at least once a year. Similar to cat dental care and our schedules for your feline friend, dogs may need to see us more often if they are experiencing recurring or more severe dental issues. 

When you book your pup's dental checkup at Rivergate Veterinary Clinic, our vets will perform a full oral examination for your dog and assess them for symptoms of dental issues, such as:

  • Bad breath
  • Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
  • Bleeding around the mouth
  • Swelling or pain in or around the mouth
  • Discolored teeth
  • Loose or broken teeth
  • Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth

If you detect symptoms of periodontal disease in your pet, 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.

Once your pet is safely sedated (they will be assessed beforehand by a vet to ensure anesthesia is safe for them), we will perform a full tooth-by-tooth examination, complete with charting, (just like your dentist does during your examinations).

While we have your dog safely and comfortably under anesthesia, we will thoroughly clean and polish your pup's teeth, both above and below the gum line. We 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.

How long does it take for a dog to recover from teeth cleaning?

All dogs are different but you can expect your pooch 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.

Vet dentistry and dog 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.

Do you suspect your dog may be suffering from dental health issues, or are they due for a checkup? Contact our New York vets right away to arrange a dental checkup for your pet. 

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Rivergate Veterinary Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of New York companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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