Dog Dental Tips for a Healthy Mouth

Dog dental care is a lot more important than many owners realize. In fact, according to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80 percent of dogs show signs of gum disease by age three. Regular dog dental care can keep your dog from becoming a statistic. Veterinary Care Veterinary care is the foundation on which dog dental health is built. Your veterinarian should perform a dental exam at every vaccination appointment for puppies, and at least once a year for adult dogs. Your veterinarian may be able to examine your dog's teeth without the use of anesthetic, though it is sometimes necessary. Your vet may take dental X-rays in order to examine your dog's teeth below the gum line. Your vet may suggest corrective procedures if there are problems with your dog's bite. Your vet can also instruct you in home dog dental care. Home Care Home care is another crucial element of dog dental care. Daily tooth-brushing is essential to your dog's dental health. A "finger brush" may be an easier alternative to the long-handled canine toothbrush. Puppies adapt easily to having their teeth brushed, so begin your dog's daily tooth-brushing regimen when he is young. If your dog won't cooperate with a tooth-brushing regimen, consider a daily oral rinse instead. Never use human toothpaste or human oral rinses on your dog. They might make him sick. You can find toothpastes and oral rinses specifically intended for dog dental care at your local pet store. You can further protect your dog's dental health with a diet of dry kibble. Dry kibble scrapes the surfaces of your dog's teeth and helps keep them clean. Dry treats, such as dog biscuits, have the same effect. Give your dog dental-safe toys. Never give your dog a toy that is harder than his teeth. Avoid real bones and don't let your dog chew rocks or other objects that might break his teeth. Warning Signs There are some basic warning signs that can tell you when your dog is having dental problems. The first sign of dog dental disease is bad breath, caused by a build-up of bacteria in the mouth. Other signs of ill dental health include excessive drooling, reluctance to chew, misaligned teeth, or missing teeth. You can monitor your dog's dental health with a home exam. Look for discolored, broken, missing or crooked teeth. Check for red, swollen, painful or bleeding gums. Look for a yellowish-brown tartar crust along the gum line and for bumps or growths within the mouth. Consult your veterinarian if you find any of these symptoms of poor dog dental health. For answers to questions about dog dental problems, go to: