Dog Dental Health

Dog dental health is important for the overall health of your pet. The basic canine dental hygiene should include regular teeth brushing, chew treats, chew toys and if possible, dry food. The dog may also visit a dental hygienist at least once or twice per year for a professional teeth cleaning.

Plaque and Tartar

Plaque and tartar are the first indicators of poor dental hygiene.

Plaque is a thin strip made up of bacteria, food residue and saliva. Plaque builds up in less than 24 hours if the dog does not have his teeth brushed. The plaque may be removed by chew treats or dry dog food.

Plaque may be removed with a regular tooth brushing. However, if plaque is left untouched, it will mix with the minerals in the saliva and will form a layer of tartar. Tartar can build up in 2 to 3 days after the plaque is deposited and not removed. Tartar cannot be removed by regular tooth brushing, but may be removed by a professional dental hygienist.

Tooth Abscess

If a dog has poor dental hygiene, he may easily develop tooth abscesses, due to the harmful bacteria.

As in humans, a tooth abscess may be very painful and the tooth may need to be removed. The infections may spread to the entire body of the pet and may be a health risk.

Periodontal Disease

The tartar deposits may lead to periodontal disease, a condition caused by toxins and bacteria. The periodontal disease is the most common medical condition in dogs and may develop in young dogs, starting from the age of 2.

The periodontum is made up of four tissues: the gingiva, the ligament, the alveolar bone and the root. All these are affected by the periodontal disease and may lead to the loss of the infected tooth. The periodontum will be swollen in the early stages and the dog will be in pain and refuse to eat. Progressively, the disease will destroy the tissues around the tooth and the tooth will fall out. In addition, the bacterial toxins may enter the blood flow and can have devastating consequences. These toxins may attack the heart, the liver or the kidneys of the dog.

Preventing Dental Problems

Dental problems may be prevented with daily home dental care.

Start brushing your dog's teeth as early as possible. Dogs need daily tooth brushing. Get a small children's toothbrush or a toothbrush from a pet store. Purchase special vet toothpaste; make sure your dog likes the flavor of the toothpaste. Don't use human toothpastes or adult toothbrushes.

Give your dog frequent chew treats; these will scrape off the plaque.

Chew toys are equally efficient in reducing plaque.

Go for a regular checkup and professional teeth cleaning. Even if you brush your dog's teeth daily, the dog still needs a professional cleaning once every 6 months; regular check-ups ensure that possible deposits of tartar are removed and cavities are detected from early stages.