By the age of three, roughly 80% of dogs will experience some form of dental disease. This is why maintaining your dog's oral health is so important. Our Wake Forest vets are here to discuss some of the common dental diseases in dogs, and how you can help prevent them from developing.
Is dog dental care really necessary?
Like your own oral health, your dog's oral health is an essential element of their overall health. Many dogs will start exhibiting signs of periodontal disease (gum disease) by the time they turn three years old. This early start to dental disease can adversely impact their physical health and wellbeing.
Studies have shown a link between periodontal disease and systemic diseases such as heart disease in humans and this appears to hold true for our canine companions as well.
Periodontal disease in dogs has been linked to heart disease due to bacteria entering the bloodstream from the mouth, damaging heart function and also potentially causing issues with other organs. These issues are above and beyond the more obvious problems such as pain caused by eroded gums, and missing or damaged teeth.
At-home oral health care routines paired with dental diets and treats can go a long way to helping your pup to clean their teeth, as well as helping to control the buildup of plaque and tartar. Nonetheless, the best way to ensure that your dog’s mouth stays clean and healthy is to take your pooch to the vet for an annual dental exam and cleaning.
When you make your pet’s annual wellness exam a priority, we are able to be proactive about signs of periodontal disease that look like gingivitis, bad breath, tooth decay, gum loss and pain.
Skipping annual professional cleaning could put your dog at risk of developing gingivitis, periodontal disease, bad breath, and in severe cases pain, tooth decay and tooth loss.
What are the common dental problems for dogs?
One of the most common complaints our clients give us is that their dog has bad breath. As harmless as this may seem, it can actually be an indicator of more serious dental health care issues. Here are some of the common issues our Wake Forest vets see in dogs:
Plaque - This soft film of bacteria and food debris gets stuck to your pet's teeth but can be easily brushed away.
Tartar - Plaque that is not frequently removed will harden into tartar and become stuck to the teeth.
Gingivitis - Tartar will start to dig below the gumline causing the gums to become red, and inflamed leading to various types of gum disease.
Periodontitis - Plaque bacteria below the gum line secrete toxic substances that cause further tissue damage. This often stimulates a dog’s immune system, which can lead to many of the supporting soft and bony tissues of the tooth being attacked and damaged.
Tooth root abscess - Once periodontal disease is established and there is active gingivitis and periodontitis, bacteria can slowly destroy the root of the tooth and its attachment to the jaw that deprives the root and tooth of its vital blood supply.
Tooth loss - In these advanced forms of periodontal disease where the deep attachments of the teeth are lost, teeth will fall out or require removal because they are loose and causing difficulty eating and/or pain.
These diseases tend to go hand in hand as they all start with plaque buildup and snowball out of control from there. This is why it is so important to keep your dog's oral health in mind, simply brushing their teeth or providing dental chews can save them from a lifetime of oral health issues.
What are the signs of oral health issues?
To help prevent your dog from developing periodontal disease, our Wake Forest veterinary dentists at North Wake Animal Hospital recommend bringing your pet in for dental exams and teeth cleanings at least once per year. Here are some of the signs they look for when examining your cat or dog's teeth.
- Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
- Bleeding in or around the mouth
- Inflamed gums
- Pain associated with chewing
- Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
- Discolored teeth
- Loose or broken teeth
- Bad breath
If you notice signs of periodontal disease in your pet, be sure to contact your vet right away to schedule a dental assessment for your pet. Oral health issues can become severe if left untreated and cause your pet a great deal of pain and discomfort.
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 along with specially designed pet toothpaste 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 or add to their drinking water. These products act as a barrier to prevent plaque buildup.
- Offer your pup treats such as dental chews or special foods 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 wellness exam with a dental exam 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.