Keeping Dog Teeth Healthy and Strong

Keeping Dog Teeth Healthy and Strong

Keeping your dog's teeth strong and healthy is one of the most important things you can do to prevent serious illness. Good dental hygiene is just as vital to your dog's health as his diet and level of exercise. Tooth decay can lead to gingivitis and even periodontitis, a serious infection. Fortunately, looking after your dog's teeth can be a simple part of routine care.

Veterinary Dental Exams

Regular veterinary dental exams are key to maintaining the health of your dog's teeth. A dental exam should be performed on young puppies at every vaccination, up to four months of age, and then again at six months of age. At this stage, your vet may suggest corrective orthodontics (braces) to address any problems with your dog's bite. If your dog's teeth are normal, then annual dental exams are appropriate from ages one to three years. Dogs aged four and up require exams every six months. Your vet will be able to exam your dog's teeth in the exam room if your pet cooperates. X-rays may be necessary to examine your dog's teeth beneath the gum line. Your vet may use a periodontal probe to examine soft tissues in your dog's mouth. Some dogs may require anesthesia before undergoing a veterinary dental exam.

Home Dental Care for Your Dog

Veterinary dental care alone won't keep your dog's teeth in top shape. Regular home care is also necessary. Brushing your dog's teeth daily is the most important thing you can do to maintain his dental health. Puppies adjust best to a daily tooth-brushing regimen, so begin brushing your dog's teeth as young as possible. Remember to use toothpaste made for dogs -- never use human toothpaste! Use a "finger brush" or an extra-long canine toothbrush. Your vet can show you how to best brush your dog's teeth. If you can't brush your dog's teeth, never fear. There is specially formulated dog food to maximize your dog's dental health. Certain chew toys and dental treats can also be very effective in maintaining your dog's dental health.