Dental Care For Dogs

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Many of us underestimate the importance of dental health in our pets.
Keeping your dog’s teeth and gums clean is a crucial part of your pet’s overall health and wellness. Taking good care of your dog’s teeth at home, and maintaining dental care with frequent veterinary dental cleanings is essential for all dogs.

Preventative Measures

To maintain good dental health, a dog’s teeth needs to be brushed every day by using a special canine toothbrush and toothpaste made especially for your pooch. This regimen is best started from a young age when your puppy is between six to eight months of age, once his adult teeth have come in. With dogs that have begun brushing at a later stage of their lives, rapid tartar buildup may pose a problem. Many veterinarians recommend dry foods and special dental biscuits that will aid in the break up of tartar. Special dental diets that have been especially designed to polish canine teeth all the way down to the gum line are also recommended. Rubber chew toys, sheepskin and rope toys also help keep your dog’s teeth clean.

Dental Cleaning

Dental cleaning is often referred to as“dental prophylaxis” and falls under a preventative procedure. Nonetheless, when there is severe dental disease, dental cleaning is often termed “periodontal treatment.” This is simply called a “dental.” Before dogs undergo any dental treatment, they will need to have blood work done to determine if they are healthy enough to be anesthetized. Anesthesia is necessary for all dogs undergoing dental work.

Periodontal Disease

The most common dental condition affecting dogs today is periodontal disease. This disease causes the inflammation and infection of your dog’s gums and the supporting tissues of his teeth. Bacteria filled plaque and tartar (calculus) build up on his teeth, most especially beneath the gum line. Pockets then form beneath your dog’s gum line, resulting in food lodging in the pockets. The tiny bits of food that do remain on your dog’s teeth then become breeding grounds for bacteria. Your furry best friend then suffers from bad breath, bleeding and inflammation of the gums, gums that start to recede, and teeth that become loose with eventual tooth loss.

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 80% of dogs that are over the age of three will develop gum or periodontal disease from lack of preventative measures.This can affect any dog breed; nonetheless periodontal disease is most common in Toy breeds. Although small dogs have the same number of teeth (42), identical to larger dogs, their teeth are crowded into a smaller area. Veterinarians recommend regular brushing as the best way to eliminate unwanted food residue, before it hardens to form the unsightly brown deposits commonly known as tartar.

Periodontal Treatment

Periodontal treatments include ultrasonic scaling, subgingival manual scaling, and polishing. For more severe cases of periodontal disease, the use of a canine dental specialist may be called for. In this case antibiotics are used, which entails cleaning your dog’s teeth, frequent brushing at home, as well as administering antibiotics for the first five days of every month. This dental regimen prescribed for your furry best friend, will decrease the progression of periodontal disease.

New Periodontal Treatments

A new treatment called Doxyrobe is also used today to treat periodontal disease. This comes in a gel form and is placed inside the socket to increase attachment. Doxyrobe comes in the form of a sustained –release form of doxycycline.

A new dental treatment, OraVet, is a gel that can be applied weekly in order to prevent the formation of plaque and unsightly tartar. Nonetheless, if your furry best friend’s teeth are in very bad shape, dental specialists may recommend bone grafting and guided tissue regeneration. Sometimes, for more severe cases, extraction is favored. In this case, your furry best friend will still be able to chew on his chew toys and eat normally. His mouth will be much healthier after the extraction.

Orthodontics

Orthodontia plays an important part in veterinary medicine today. Braces are used to fix misaligned teeth, so that dogs can chew normally and without pain. Orthodontics is the best way of dealing with a malocclusion. Instead of removing your dog’s teeth surgically, veterinarians carefully coax the teeth into position with braces. Your dog’s lower canines consist of a good part of his chin. They also help hold his tongue in place, and are used for grasping. Braces for canines look similar to human braces, nonetheless they require anesthesia to install, adjust, and to remove after a couple of months. Many pet parents think that orthodontic techniques are performed solely for cosmetic reasons. Canine orthodontics help to improve comfort, eliminate traumatic damage to the mouth, and also to improve function of the canine mouth if your pooch has a malocclusion.

Crown Reduction

The dental specialist will cut the crown, and expose the tooth’s pulp. A small portion of your dog’s pulp is removed, and the top of his tooth is then shortened and reformed. This is called a vital pulpotomy, yet can carry some complications.

This type of procedure needs to be carefully monitored with dental X-rays every year.

Ball Therapy

Sometimes your dog’s teeth can be moved into place in response to pressure being generated on his teeth. This is done as he chews a rubber ball for fifteen minutes, three times a day. Nonetheless, if your pooch does not enjoy chewing rubber balls, then this approach will be hard to use.

Endodontic Problems

Teeth that are broken or abscessed will most likely require root canal or extractions. These problems tend to be more common in larger dog breeds, and occur most frequently in breeds like the Shepherd and Retriever breeds. These larger breeds enjoy chewing on fences, furniture and outdoor objects, grinding their teeth down, and sometimes even chipping or breaking them. Ice cubes often contribute to teeth chipping or fracturing.

Symptoms of Dental Problems

Doggie Breath: If your furry best friend’s breath smells bad, have his teeth examined by your veterinarian and professionally cleaned. Nonetheless, this is not a substitute for brushing your dog’s teeth regularly.

Loss of Appetite: Dogs that have pain chewing, will have problems when eating. They may pick at food, andthen cease eating altogether. This may be indicative of periodontal disease.

Drooling: Your dog’s excessive drooling may be indicative of a painful dental condition, or something that is stuck inside a tooth. In this case, it is necessary to take your pooch to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

Feeling Sickly: Oral bacteria from dental problems can enter Fido’s bloodstream, and can cause multiple health problems, some of them severe. Damage to the kidneys, heart, liver and lungs can also occur if dental treatment is not sought immediately.

Mouth & Cheek Pawing:

Check the inside of your dog’s mouth for ulcers and for inflamed, red gums. Be quick –dogs have limited patience when it comes to their teeth. Visit your veterinarian if the problem continues. Never ignore a dental problem, even if it seems minor. Most dogs tend to regain their appetite and zest after a tooth repair is made.

Oral Surgery

Oral surgery tends to be favored in cases where the removal of one or more teeth is necessary. It is also done to repair fractured jaws in dogs. There are many new pain relief drugs and techniques used by veterinarians today. Your furry best friend can undergo dental surgery with the minimal amount of pain and discomfort. Oral surgery is also required for dogs that have been diagnosed with oral tumors of the mouth and throat. This tends to occur frequently in alldogs. Radiotherapy and new surgical dental techniques are used for removing tumors, resulting in excellent results both cosmetically, and in prognosis. Nonetheless, oral surgery needs to be performed at an early stage of oral disease for best results. Have your veterinarian examine your furry best friend for non- cancerous masses that may be gingival hyperplasia, an overgrowth of your dog’s gums.

When all is said and done, regular brushing will pay off in the end, ensuring pearly whites, and a healthier dog.

Cost

Every pet will present with unique circumstances, and each pet parent will be faced with their pet’s unique dental needs. Dental treatment planning involves careful consideration of what dental treatment your dog needs, the use of diagnostic dental radiographs, and a complete understanding of your dog’s needs.

The cost of a professional veterinary dental cleaning will vary from one dental veterinary specialist to another. Costs will also vary depending on how much dental work your pooch is going to need. Canine dental cleanings generally tend to fall between $300-$750, depending on each individual case of dental disease and the age of your pooch. Additional costs will include extractions, special treatments like root canals and braces. Root canals can often cost the same as an extraction, because of the size of a dog’s tooth.

Prevent dental disease in your furry best friend. These diseases can lead to many health problems in dogs. Look after your dog’s pearly whites like your own. Every pooch deserves a comfortable and healthy “bite.”