How Do I Take Care of My Dog's Teeth?

Posted by Amanda Langill on

Our dogs can suffer from many types of dental diseases and issues that can become problematic if not avoided or maintained. Some of these issues include overcrowding, plaque buildup, gingivitis, periodontal disease, and tooth loss. There are actually some breeds that are at higher risk of suffering from these issues. Find out here if your dog could be one of them. 

smiling Golden Retriever with teeth and tongue showing

In order to know how to care for your dog, you first need to know what you’re trying to prevent or deal with. However, regardless of any dental issues, some very common and regular practices include brushing at home and frequent visits to the vet for professional dental cleanings. It is recommended by vets to brush your dogs teeth at least twice a day, or at an absolute minimum at least 3 times a week. I know this can be challenging so read here for tips on brushing your dog’s teeth and getting them to cooperate. Make sure to always use vet approved toothpaste for your dog, and never human toothpaste.

Overcrowding in the mouth is when the teeth are too close together, bunched together, or touching where they should not be. Most dogs that suffer from this are small breed dogs and brachycephalic dogs. Because the teeth are so close together it can become very easy for food and bacteria to become stuck between the teeth and cause further dental issues. This is when it becomes important to brush their teeth at home frequently and after meals. You want to avoid any build up of bacteria so that it does not progress to plaque build-up or diseases. Overcrowding can also include painful enamel deterioration from the constant rubbing against each other. This is something that would be diagnosed by a vet and looked at during the professional dental cleanings. Teeth could possibly need extracting to eliminate this painful issue.

Plaque buildup is unfortunately really common and can easily get out of control if the teeth are not cared for. Plaque is a substance on the teeth that forms within only a few hours after a meal. If the teeth are not brushed within 24 hours of the meal, the plaque will begin to harden and will eventually become tarter. This becomes problematic because as tarter builds up it pushes the gums away and the gums begin to recede, exposing the sensitive parts of the tooth. The best ways to avoid this are daily brushing, dental treats, water additives, and regular professional cleaning to remove tarter. 

White dog with black ears smiling

Gingivitis is the inflammation of gums. Gingivitis is important to understand because it is the only reversible stage before periodontal disease. Gingivitis can be avoided by keeping up with good oral hygiene. It is caused by bacteria getting between the gums and teeth. Bacteria grows from plaque and tarter buildup on the teeth. Gingivitis is visibly noticeable with swelling along the gum line, redness, bad breath, and sometimes bleeding. 

Periodontal disease is the result of leaving gingivitis untreated. It is caused by the infection spreading deep into the tooth socket and ultimately destroying the bone, causing pain and tooth loss. Periodontal disease is not reversible and can only be dealt with. So it’s super important to do everything you can to avoid getting to this stage of gum disease. Avoid periodontal disease by preventing gingivitis by preventing plaque! It all begins with great oral care. 

One of my favorite dental treats for my dog is Veggidents. It was recommended to me by our vet and Scout loves them! After each dental brushing I give him one half and he looks forward to it each time. They have less calories than the popular Greenies and seem tough enough to help fight plaque. 

There are also many toys out there that can help with your dog’s plaque and dental care as well. Ones like this make oral care fun and don’t let your dog know that they’re actually “brushing”. 

Dental disease is the most common disease in dogs, affecting 2/3 of dogs over the age of 3. So, don’t feel discouraged if your dog is one of them. The best you can do is help prevent as much as you can! Talk to your vet about how often you should be getting professional cleanings and come up with a dental plan that works for you and your dog! 

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