Do dogs really need to have their teeth cleaned? The Ultimate Guide

What You Should Know About Canine Dental Care

Your veterinarian’s insistence that your canine companion needs a dental cleaning addresses far more than the issue of a dog’s stinky breath. Poor dental hygiene can result in a host of medical problems. Some of the more common issues are gingivitis, periodontal disease, tooth loss, infection, and difficulty eating.

Plaque builds up on canine teeth, just like it does on human teeth. Over time, a buildup of plaque can lead to inflammation of the gums, called gingivitis. Dogs with gingivitis may have red, inflamed gums that bleed easily, and you may also notice bad breath. If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis.

Periodontitis can cause destruction to the connective tissues surrounding the tooth and can also damage the bone. Most concerning, however, is the detrimental effects periodontitis can have on your dog’s heart, kidneys, and liver.

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Has anyone ever told you that dogs don’t need dental care because they keep their teeth clean naturally by chewing? Unfortunately for our canine companions, this is not entirely true. Dental health is just as important for dogs as it is for humans. Luckily, keeping your pup’s teeth clean is surprisingly simple.

Which steps will my vet take during a professional teeth cleaning?

We recommend scheduling an annual dental appointment for your dog, and bringing them in more frequently if they are prone to dental problems.

Your veterinarian will complete an exam, looking for signs of dental problems, such as:

  • Loose or broken teeth
  • Extra teeth or baby teeth that have been retained
  • Discolored teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Swelling, pain, or bleeding in or around the mouth
  • Plaque or tartar buildup
  • You should also let your vet know if any symptoms such as abnormal chewing, drooling, dropping food from the mouth or reduced appetite (which may be a sign your dog is experiencing tooth pain).

    This assessment will also determine whether your pet is healthy enough for anesthesia, then complete additional diagnostics if required. Once we have safely anesthetized your pet, we complete a full oral exam (tooth-by-tooth) and charting.

    We will also clean and polish their teeth and under the gum line while they are safely under anesthesia. Each tooth is probed and radiographed, then a fluoride treatment is used. A dental sealant is applied to fight plaque. If advanced periodontal disease is identified, we create a treatment plan and review it with you.

    How often do dogs need to have their teeth cleaned?

    Considering a professional teeth cleaning for your dog? In this post, our Huntersville vets share how it’s done and why you should do it.