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Dog Dental Care 101: How to Care for Your Dog's Teeth

Like humans, our dogs can suffer from the impact of tooth decay and gum disease. This is why dental care for your dog's teeth is essential to your pup's overall health. Today, our Central Illinois vets share some advice for keeping your pooch's teeth clean and their mouth healthy. 

Does my dog really need dental care?

Just like our own dental health, our dogs' oral health is key to their general health. Did you know that signs of gum (periodontal) disease begin to appear in most dogs by the time they are about three years old? Early signs of dental disease can have serious negative impacts for their general physical health and well-being. 

Studies of people have been published linking periodontal disease and heart disease has been discovered. This seems to be true for our canine friends as well. 

For dogs, periodontal disease has been linked to heart disease due to bacteria entering the bloodstream through the mouth. This can not only cause damage to the heart but also cause problems with other organs. These issues are on top of the more immediate problem of pain caused by missing or damaged teeth and eroding gums. 

Maintaining your dog's oral health can be a team effort between you and your vet. An effective and consistent at-home oral healthcare routine including dental treats can help keep your pup's teeth clean, and control plaque and tartar buildup. The best way to keep your dog's mouth healthy and clean is to book annual dental exams and cleanings at your vet's office. 

Missing out on this professional cleaning may leave your dog at risk for gingivitis, bad breath, periodontal disease and in more severe cases tooth pain, decay and even loss of teeth. 

What does my vet do during my dog's dental care appointment?

Our Central Illinois vets can help prevent tooth decay and periodontal disease from developing in your dog by performing exams during annual dental appointments. If your pet is experiencing severe or more recurring dental issues, your veterinarian may need to see your pet more often. 

When your dog comes to see us for a dental checkup at Pekin Veterinary Clinic, our vets will perform a complete oral examination for your pup and check for signs of dental issues such as: 

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

If you notice signs of periodontal disease in your pet, such as abnormal chewing, drooling, dripping from the mouth, reduced appetite (which can indicate tooth pain), bad breath or other symptoms, make sure to contact your vet right away to book a dental appointment for your dog. Left untreated, oral health issues can become severe problems and lead to a great deal of pain and discomfort for your pet. 

Our vets assess all pets to ensure that they are healthy enough to handle anesthesia and conduct additional diagnostics if required to ensure that a dental exam while sedated is safe for your pet. Once your pet is safely sedated, we will perform a full oral exam (tooth-by-tooth) complete with charting, (just like your dentist does during your examinations).

While we have your dog safely and comfortably under anesthesia, our team 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 pup 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.

Should I brush my dog's teeth?

As a pet owner, you play a pivotal role in helping your pup fight dental disease. Here are a few easy ways that you can help to keep your dog's teeth clean and healthy:

    • 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.
    • 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.

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.

Is it time for your dog's dental checkup? Our veterinary professionals at Pekin Veterinary Clinic are dedicated to providing experienced dental care for your pet. Contact us today.

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