Dog Dental Care - Bad Breath, Teeth Cleaning, Dog Dentist

Did you know that the most common dental disease in dogs and cats is periodontal disease? The problem starts when plaque which is made up of food particles and bacteria, builds up on the teeth and creates a space between the teeth and gums. Food gets trapped there, and an infection begins which wears away the bone that holds the teeth. The teeth eventually get loose and fall out. The process can take months to years to occur. During this time, the pet can be in severe discomfort and is exposed to the toxins created by the bacteria. Research has shown that periodontal disease can cause infection in the heart, kidneys, lungs, liver and brain. Once a pet has periodontal disease a dental cleaning is needed. This is accomplished by putting the pet under anesthesia and the tartar is removed and scraped from the periodontal pockets. Sometimes an antibiotic product is injected into the pockets to aid in healing and bacterial control. Many times the pocket will reattach to the teeth. If this does not occur, chronic treatment is needed. It is certainly best to have your pet on a preventative program. Some breeds are more prone to periodontal disease. Especially small breeds and breeds with small snouts such as Pugs, Boston Terriers and Persian cats. However, any dog or cat can develop this problem. The most effective way to prevent the damage caused by periodontal disease is to practice a regular program of brushing. This is the single most effective way to ensure a healthy mouth. The best way to brush your pet's teeth is with a small soft toothbrush or rubber finger brush. Many products are available to use for brushing and are individually tailored to meet your pets needs. Human toothpaste is not desirable because it is too foamy, the pets swallow it since they cannot spit and sometimes feel like they are choking. In addition the fluoride in toothpaste can be dangerous if ingested. Ideally you should brush your pet's teeth every day, but a minimum of three times a week is necessary to be effective. In addition, certain chewing products are effective in reducing tartar. Our veterinarians can recommend those that we have found to work the best. Another excellent product is the Hills TD food which brushes an animals teeth as it eats. Even pets which eat nothing but hard food may still get periodontal disease and need a dental cleaning. It sometimes takes a while to get your pet to enjoy having their teeth brushed. But the benefits are worth the time you spend. Start improving your pet's overall health by improving their dental health. They will have a longer and more comfortable life. Schedule a visit at the Rutherford Animal Hospital for a dental exam where we will evaluate your pet's dental health and formulate a treatment or maintenance plan

Dog Bad Breath, A Sign Of Things To Come

Some people think that dog bad breath is a trait inherent to the canine species. This is a myth that dogs themselves have contributed to over the years through behaviors including drinking from the toilet, eating feces, and self-grooming habits. However, these practices alone do not account for dog bad breath. Dog bad breath is generally a result of the bacteria that live in the infected gum and dental tissue in your dog's mouth. This odor is a sign of progressive dental disease. It will not get better without a thorough veterinary dental cleaning and a proper home care plan.

Signs And Symptoms Of Dog Dental Issues

The best way to prevent dog dental issues is to be proactive. Part of this process includes periodic dog teeth cleaning, but the other part requires vigilance on your part as the dog's owner. If your dog displays any of the following symptoms, you should schedule a veterinary appointment ASAP:

  • Bad breath / Halitosis
  • Problems eating, loss of appetite (only in the most severe cases)
  • Red, swollen, bleeding gums (usually the molars in the back of the mouth)
  • Loose, broken, missing teeth
  • Blood in saliva or nasal discharge
  • Lesions in mouth

Should you notice any of these symptoms, schedule a veterinary appointment right away.

What A Veterinarian Is Looking For During A Dog Dentistry Examination

During an oral exam, a veterinarian looks for any signs of abnormality or ill health. Veterinarians are trained to spot many different symptoms, including:

  • Overbite, underbite, malocclusion, teeth that don't fit together
  • Gingivitis and periodontal disease
  • Facial swelling
  • Tartar buildup
  • Fractured or broken teeth
  • Cavities
  • Abscesses

Our veterinarian will develop a customized plan of prevention or treatment based on what is found during the doggie dental exam at your next visit.

Dog Dental Treatments

The dog dental care services provided here (at Rutherford Animal Hospital and Little Falls Animal Hospital) begin with an examination by one of our veterinarians. If dental issues are found in your dog's mouth, our veterinarian will explain the situation to you and recommend the appropriate dental procedure. During this procedure, once your dog is sedated, our veterinarians are able to conduct a more thorough exam including visualizing the entire oral cavity and throat area, probing gingival pockets to assess periodontal disease and dental x-rays. It is important to remember that half of the tooth is under the gum line. Therefore, it is imperative that x-rays are performed to compete assessment of the tooth. Quite often a tooth may look completely normal but the roots are abscessed and a great source of pain for your dog. We utilize all the tools necessary to make sure your dog is completely free of dental disease and pain.

Our veterinarians use a comprehensive 6-Step protocol when performing a standard dog dental treatment. This protocol can be amended depending upon factors including preexisting medical conditions, or based on information gleaned during the examination itself. However, for reference, our dog dental treatment protocol includes:

  1. General anesthesia, which is necessary in all cases for us to do a thorough dental examination and professional cleaning. We use only the safest anesthesia protocols and human quality products. Your dog will be continually monitored during the entire procedure and post procedure for the safest and most comfortable experience.
  2. A complete dental exam will be performed before we begin any dental procedure. Dental radiographs are taken at this time. Dental radiology allows our veterinarians to view the internal anatomy of the teeth including the roots and surrounding bone. A thorough dental chart is used to record the dental health of your pet, and any procedures done during the dental cleaning.
  3. Ultrasonic and hand scaling to remove plaque and tartar above and below the gum line. A thorough scaling below the gum line is critical to the success of any dental cleaning, as this is where illness-causing bacteria hide.
  4. Polishing to smooth the surface of the teeth after scaling, making them resistant to additional plaque formation.
  5. Flushing to remove dislodged tartar, plaque and bacteria from the mouth.
  6. If it is determined that an infected tooth requires extraction, or there is a problem with the gums that must be addressed, then and only then will oral surgery be recommended.

Oral Surgery For Dogs

If oral surgery is necessary, it can provide your canine companion with a new lease on life. In these cases, your dog is dealing with significant pain and is compensating for it in a variety of ways. Our veterinary staff is capable of resolving a variety of oral maladies, including:

  • Gingival surgery - including tumor removal and removal of excessive gum tissue secondary to periodontal disease
  • Extensive extractions of impacted or damaged teeth
  • Oral tumor removal

Our dog dental facility allows our veterinarians to precisely perform whatever oral surgical procedure is necessary, in order to help your canine companion live, or regain a healthy and happy quality of life.

The Harsh Reality Of Periodontal Disease In Dogs

Periodontal disease in dogs is the most common clinical condition occurring in adult canines. By three years of age, most dogs have some evidence of periodontal disease. Unfortunately, other than bad breath, there are few signs of periodontal disease in dogs evident to dog owners and professional diagnosis often comes too late to prevent extensive damage. Periodontal disease in dogs, if left untreated, will lead to infected, non viable teeth and significant dental pain.

However we cannot overstate the fact that periodontal disease in dogs is fully preventable. The way to successfully do so is to schedule semi-annual dog dental exams and dog teeth cleaning appointments with your veterinary dog dentist. By doing so, you are ensuring that your canine companion remains at a low risk for developing periodontal disease.

How To Schedule Your Dog's Dental Appointment

Scheduling an appointment with one of our veterinarians is as easy as picking up the phone, or sending us an email. Our veterinary staff is here to help make your dog's dentistry appointment easy for you, while making it as painless and pleasant as possible for your canine companion.

Contact Us Today To Schedule Your Dog Dental Care Appointment


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