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Dog Dental Care: How to Take Care of Your Dog's Teeth

Your dog's oral health affects their overall health, which is why it's important to keep your dog's teeth and gums clean and healthy. Today, our Portland vets share tips on how to clean a dog's mouth and advice for keeping your pooch's teeth in excellent condition. 

Why should I worry about my dog's teeth?

Just like people, a dog's dental health is closely linked to their general physical health and well-being. Unfortunately, periodontal disease and tooth decay are common problems for dogs – even for young dogs. 

These oral health issues can have dire consequences for your pooch's overall health, since the bacteria that cause periodontal disease can travel through a dog's body. That's why it's important to take these easy steps to keep your pet's mouth healthy. 

How can I keep my dog's teeth clean?

Pup parents play a vital role in helping their dogs battle dental disease. You may wonder, "Should I brush my dog's teeth?" and the answer is, "Yes." Here are some tips on how to clean your dog's teeth and maintain their oral health: 

  • Make daily brushing a part of your dog's oral health routine. Use a dog-specific toothbrush or finger brush to remove any plaque or debris from your pooch's teeth. If your dog isn't a fan of having their teeth brushed, it may help to apply a small amount of specially flavored canine toothpaste to the brush. These products come in a range of flavors your pooch will like. 
  • Use a plaque prevention product (ask your vet for trustworthy recommendations) that you can apply to your pup's gums and teeth. These products help prevent plaque buildup between professional cleanings. 
  • Give your four-legged friend dental treats, food, or chews designed to help prevent plaque buildup and tartar. 

Why does my dog need professional teeth cleaning?

While it's important to maintain an at-home oral care routine (and potentially supplement it with dental treats or chews), seeing the vet regularly for a professional dental cleaning will help prevent plaque and tartar buildup. This is the best way to ensure your dog's mouth stays clean and healthy. 

Without this annual cleaning, teeth can become covered in plaque, which can lead to gingivitis, bad breath, and eventually periodontal disease, tooth decay and tooth loss. There may also be severe consequences for your pooch's overall health, since periodontal disease may lead to heart disease (where bacteria enters the bloodstream through the mouth, it can infect other organs). 

Dental care is an essential pillar of your pet's overall physical health. Schedule your dog's annual dental appointment today – your pooch will be grateful. 

What happens during professional teeth cleaning?

We recommend booking an annual dental checkup for your dog. You may need to bring them in more frequently if they are prone to dental problems.

Your veterinarian will perform an oral health evaluation, looking for signs of dental problems, including:

  • Plaque or tartar buildup
  • Bad breath
  • Swelling, pain, or bleeding in or around the mouth
  • Discolored teeth
  • Loose or broken teeth
  • Extra teeth or baby teeth that have been retained

You can also take this opportunity to let your vet know if you’ve noticed any symptoms such as drooling, dropping food from the mouth, reduced appetite (which could indicate your dog is experiencing pain in his teeth), or abnormal chewing.

Your vet will also determine whether your pet is healthy enough for anesthesia, then perform additional diagnostics if required. Once we have safely anesthetized your pet, we complete a full oral exam (tooth-by-tooth) and charting.

While they are safely under anesthesia, their teeth will be cleaned and polished (in addition to their gum line). The vet will probe and radiograph each tooth, then apply a fluoride treatment before using a dental sealant to fight plaque. If we find advanced periodontal disease, a custom treatment plan to help restore your pet's good oral health.

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 your dog due for a dental examination and teeth cleaning? Contact our Portland vets today for a consultation and possible treatment options.

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Cedar Mill Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Portland companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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