A Vet Answered All Our Questions About Dental Disease, the #1 Health Problem in Dogs

This article has been updated.

When it comes to your dog’s health, one of the most neglected areas is the mouth – and this can be detrimental to their well-being. Indeed, dental diseases are the priority. 1 Health Problems Dogs Face, With More 80% of them had it at the age of three. Not only can our four-legged friends suffer from swollen gums, loose teeth, tissue destruction and bone loss, but the bad bacteria that invade their mouths can infiltrate their bloodstream and affect the heart, liver and kidneys. It can even be fatal.

Fortunately, dental disease is manageable and preventable. Although it starts at home, with regular dental care, including brushing your dog’s teeth, as well as using dental products, like our Goodbye, goodbye dog breath Along with dental power and dental sticks, dog parents should also undergo regular dental cleanings at the veterinarian to reduce and delay plaque and tartar buildup.

Bye Bye Dog Breath Powder

Developed by veterinarians, Bye, Bye Dog Breath Tooth Powder is packed with natural ingredients to help keep teeth clean and plaque-free, while supporting gums and freshening breath. Along with natural zeolites, the powder acts as a mild abrasive, preventing the formation of plaque.


We spoke to Dr. Stapleton at Barrington Veterinary Hospital on some of the main questions relating to dog dental care.

Related: 7 Natural Ways to Stop Bad Dog Breath

LDL: What do good gums look like?

Healthy gums are pink, firm, and there is no evidence of gum recession manifested by root exposure. Unhealthy gums are reddened, more crumbly, and bleed easily when toys are chewed.

LDL: How do I know if my dog’s tooth is bothering him or if his mouth hurts?

Dr. Stapleton: Being shy can be an indication of mouth pain, as can lip smacking. Excessive drooling often occurs for a day or two after you break a tooth and expose the pulp (nerve canal in the center of the root). Not wanting to chew as much or at all on bones or toys and changing eating habits can also be a warning of the presence of a dental disease that causes pain.

But keep in mind that it can sometimes be difficult to assess pain in a pet, because they have an innate instinct to hide it until it becomes unbearable – in the wild, if they shows weakness, he becomes prey. Often, only subtle changes are present, such as being more or less clingy, a slowdown incorrectly attributed to aging, rubbing your face on carpet or furniture, and the behaviors disappear after proper dental care. It is not uncommon to hear that dogs behave like puppies again after treatment.

LDL: If dental problems are not treated, what could happen to my pet?

Dr. Stapleton: In cases of periodontal disease, bacteria can enter the bloodstream and affect vital organs such as the kidneys, liver and heart.

Teeth are also lost after becoming loose due to bone loss, and chewing at this stage is painful.

Fractured teeth will eventually form an abscess, which is also painful.

In long-standing cases, the side of the face may swell. Although this disease responds temporarily to antibiotics, until the tooth is removed the disease will continue to recur.

When a tooth first breaks and the nerve (pulp) is exposed, it is very painful. Bacteria invade the pulp and cause the tooth to die. If detected early, key teeth can be saved with root canal treatment. Caries, if not detected early and removed or restored, will invade the pulp chamber with consequences similar to those of a fractured tooth.

Some lower canine malocclusions (misalignment of the teeth) can cause trauma to the palate and, if left untreated, can penetrate through the upper jaw bone and into the nasal cavity.

Benign oral growths can create a crevice for bacteria between the tooth and the growth, leading to accelerated periodontal disease. Malignant oral growths, unless detected early, can quickly become life-threatening.

LDL: When should my dog ​​have his first cleaning?

Dr. Stapleton: Generally, a dog’s teeth should be professionally cleaned every one to three years, depending on their size. The smaller the breed, the more often the teeth will need to be cleaned, as they are predisposed to periodontal disease or bone loss around the roots of the teeth due to plaque, tartar and bacteria under the gum line. Teeth should be cleaned when plaque or tartar, or mineralized plaque, is visible on dental crowns and/or when bad breath is present.

LDL: During the examination process, what should pet owners ask about their dog’s mouth?

Dr. Stapleton: Pet owners should ask if there are signs of gingivitis on examination, characterized by redness and inflammation of the gums, recession of the gums, periodontal pocket formation, mouth growths, worn or fractured teeth , malocclusions or misaligned teeth, causing uncomfortable biting or cavities, which is rarely seen in dogs.

LDL: If my pet is having his teeth cleaned by a professional, what should I know about anesthesia?

Dr. Stapleton: Most importantly, you need to know if a doctor will be present with your pet at all times while they are under anesthesia.

Also ask about the type of anesthesia that will be used and the type of monitoring device used.

Anesthesia is relatively safe and has advanced enormously over the years. Unfortunately, there is always a risk, but this can be minimized by careful monitoring, body temperature control and appropriate pre-operative blood tests.

It is very rare that an animal cannot be anesthetized due to a concomitant medical problem, but it does happen occasionally. In this case, diligent home care aimed at minimizing plaque and tartar buildup is paramount to maintaining the healthiest mouth possible.

There has been a lot of appeal for cleaning without anesthesia, but scaling below the gum line, where periodontal disease begins, is difficult and treatment of early lesions is impossible. Additionally, the inside of the teeth is not accessible for cleaning/probing and the molars in the back of the mouth, where periodontal disease is often present, cannot be adequately examined or cleaned. Pets don’t just sit like people and open their mouths. They tend to move to varying degrees and injury from slipping instruments is a potential complication. Dental x-rays, or x-rays, are also not possible and a significant amount of “hidden” pathologies go unnoticed when an animal is not anesthetized.

LDL: What types of procedures are performed when my dog ​​gets his teeth cleaned?

Dr. Stapleton: You should expect the following during a dental cleaning: scaling of crowns followed by cleaning under the gums of all teeth, application of a disclosing solution to determine if any plaque has been missed and subsequent retapping, polishing of all surfaces of the teeth, looking for loss. of gum attachment and signs of periodontal disease by a veterinarian, root planing and subgingival curettage (scaling of the root surface and removal of the pocket liner) of all early and treatable periodontal pockets, a visual examination veterinarian to detect any fractured or worn teeth, oral masses or cavities and dental x-rays of at least suspicious areas and preferably of the entire mouth.

LDL: How do I keep my pet’s mouth healthy at home?

Dr. Stapleton: If your pet agrees, brushing their teeth daily will help maintain their dental health. But we must remember that we brush and floss our teeth several times a day and we still need to clean them. The same goes for pets and home care will not eliminate the need for professional cleanings; this will just help increase the interval between cleanings. Starting with peanut butter on the brush helps hesitant dogs become more accepting of the procedure.

There are also many dental products on the market, from water additives to mouthwashes and gels, tartar treats, bones, and even foods.

Bye Bye Breathing sticks for dogs

Developed by veterinarians, Bye, Bye Dog Breath dental sticks are packed with natural ingredients to help keep your dog’s mouth clean. With its targeted and simple system, the double-layer sticks make cleaning a breeze. The outer layer of the stick helps reduce plaque, prevent tartar buildup and eliminate bacteria. The inner layer supports healthy gums and freshens breath.


Related: Stinky dog ​​breath? Here are 4 simple toothpastes you can make at home.

LDL: How to prevent dental diseases?

Dr. Stapleton: Start at an early age, once the permanent teeth have erupted (around 6 months of age), with diligent home care and appropriately spaced professional dental cleanings by your veterinarian.

Related: 5 Easy Dog Treats You Can Make at Home to Freshen Your Dog’s Breath


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