Canine Dentistry: Ensuring the Best Care

Canine Dental Care

Dog Teeth Cleaning

Canine Tooth Loss

Dog Root Canals

Canine dentistry is a thriving field. Since around 1980, it has been a required part of veterinary schools curricula, so the overwhelming majority of veterinarians offer and are well versed in canine dentistry. This means that the options for veterinary professionals offering the best dental care for your dog are plentiful. This is good news, mainly because dogs can have just as many dental issues as humans. Unfortunately, dogs suffer most often from one of the most aggressive types of dental conditions -- periodontal disease. In fact, 80% of all dogs, aged three and up, will develop some form of dental or periodontal disease. Humans suffer most frequently from tooth decay.

Even in their earliest years, dogs, just like humans, must take special care of their teeth in order to ward off future dental problems. There are certain measures that can be taken at home, and others that are best administered by a veterinary professional. You can clean your dog's teeth at home as preventative and maintenance driven measures and you should also take your dog to the vet for regular canine dental cleanings.

What's involved in a canine dental cleaning?

A canine dental cleaning has several components. Your vet will explain these components to you in great detail before your dog's first procedure takes place. Keep in mind that communication and great knowledge of canine dental processes and procedures are telltale signs of a professional and caring animal dentistry operation. The components of a professional canine dental cleaning include:

  • General anesthesia
  • Pre-anesthesia blood tests
  • Possible antibiotic treatment
  • Tooth scaling
  • Tooth polishing
  • Possible tooth extraction or other procedure

Due to the nature of cleaning a dog's teeth, general anesthesia will be necessary. This prevents sudden movements by the dog and it minimizes pain. Before anesthesia can be administered, the vet will take a series of pre-anesthesia blood tests to ensure that liver and kidney function are healthy. If the pet already has an infection, antibiotic treatment may be necessary before scaling and polishing can be performed. Tooth scaling is performed by hand using ultrasonic cleaning equipment to remove tartar buildup above and below the gum line. The final step in the process is tooth polishing which helps to prevent plaque build-up.

During the course of cleaning your dog's teeth, the veterinarian may come across a tooth that is in such disrepair, that the tooth has to be <b>extracted</b>. Some teeth can be saved by performing a less drastic procedure such as a canine root canal or strengthened by applying fluoride. In these cases, your vet will notify you prior to performing the procedure or administering fluoride applications.

It is important to take your dog to the vet for regular dental checkups to ensure the best dental care. Depending on age, you should take your dog to the dentist every six months. Dogs over three years of age might benefit from twice yearly cleanings. Just think, plaque and tartar can begin forming in less than six hours after teeth have been cleaned.

Taking Care of Your Dog's Teeth at Home

Paying close attention to your dog's dental care on a daily basis can prevent periodontal disease. The main culprit in periodontal disease is tartar (calculus). When tartar accumulates on the teeth, it causes the gums to recede around the base of the tooth. This leads to infection and the gums recede even more. If left untreated, the infection can spread into the tooth socket. This causes the tooth to loosen and fall out.

To prevent tartar buildup there's nothing better than good old-fashioned tooth brushing. Your vet will provide you with the best home dental program you're your pet. This will include a special brush, special toothpaste, instructions on how to brush your dog's teeth, and a special diet, if necessary. It is important to note that you should never use human dental products on a dog. Human dental products such as toothpaste are not meant to be swallowed. Human toothpaste contains sodium, which can be irritating your dogs system. In addition to regular brushing at home, you can also use special canine toys that help control plaque buildup, and there are a number of dental diets that are specifically designed to help reduce tartar buildup. Before feeding your dog a special diet, you should always discuss the options with a veterinary professional.