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Dog Dentistry - Dental Health And The Wellbeing Of Your Dog

How does dental health impact the overall health of my dog?

It's really important that your pet has good oral health because if they have a lot of tarter and bacteria in their mouth, it can affect other organ systems such as the heart, kidneys, and liver and cause issues in other parts of the body.

Dr. Catherine MacLean
Sugar River Animal Hospital

How can I care for my dog's teeth at home?

One great way to care for their teeth is to brush them with a kid's size toothbrush and appropriate doggie toothpaste. It's usually enzymatic and comes in disgusting flavors like beef and chicken. Ideally, if you could brush them once a day, that would be great, but brush them at least three times a week for it to be effective. Other alternatives are wipes that are like baby wipes. You put them on your finger and rub their teeth. Also, there are special prescription dental diets that have a matrix, and when they crunch into it, it helps scrape some of the tarter off the teeth.

What are some signs and symptoms of dental disease in dogs?

One sign is if you see a lot of brown stuff on the teeth, which is tarter. Another possibility is gingivitis, and the dog's mouth will be red along the gumline. You might also smell something bad. If you notice any teeth falling out of the mouth, which we've heard from clients, as long as they're not puppies, that is not normal in adult dogs at all.

What are some of the common dental diseases in dogs?

Common dental diseases in dogs are gingivitis and periodontal disease, which is when they start losing the bone underneath the gumline from the bacteria that are living there.

Why is early detection and diagnosis of dental disease so important?

It's great if we can find the problem before periodontal disease happens because that means the bone hasn't started dissolving over the teeth, and we can hopefully just clean the teeth and get them back in good condition without losing teeth.

How often should my dog's teeth be checked?

At least once a year. We always do it here during their annual exam, but if you notice anything of concern, such as bad breath or swelling under the eye in particular, or, like I said, a tooth falling out, we should see them sooner.

What is a professional dental cleaning like for a dog?

It's done under general anesthesia here, and it's a day procedure. They come in the morning and go home in the afternoon. They're treated like little humans, so they're monitored the same way you or I would be under anesthesia. They will get an IV catheter, and a warming unit is involved. We have a warming unit on our dental machine, so the water that comes out is warm. We take full mouth x-rays because they have 42 teeth in their mouth. As you can see, they have prominent roots that go up to the sinus cavity and down deep into the jaw. The x-ray allows us to make sure the teeth are healthy because we can see all the teeth and see where they’re unhealthy. If there are any problems during the procedure, or if we find a problem with the teeth, we'll call you and discuss the next best step, which is usually the removal of that tooth on the same day, and then they go home later that day.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (603) 865-5532, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.

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