Has your dog ever walked up to you and breathed their dog’s breath right in your face?  Bad breath can actually be a sign of oral disease.  Dog breath is not generally pleasant normally, but it doesn’t have to knock you over.  Dog’s are at risk for oral disease.  Leaving oral problems left untreated can also cause your dog to lose teeth at an older age, or even have pain when they try to chew their food.  Many of the same dental troubles that people have, dog’s can have as well.  Buildup of plaque, gingivitis, and periodontitis are just a few.  Your dog’s dental care should be as regular as your own. 

Eighty percent of dogs over the age of 3 years old have some form of dental disease.  Periodontal disease is the most common oral disease that affects dogs.  It is a condition where the periodontium or the tissue surrounding the tooth becomes infected or inflamed.  Periodontal disease starts as gingivitis, left untreated can lead to an infection deeper in the gum and tooth.  Periodontal disease can lead to your dog’s tooth falling out.  In some instances the best treatment is extraction of the tooth.  Usually dog’s that have extracted teeth are just fine and adjust well to a missing tooth.  The extraction allows the gum line to heal properly and helps allow the infection to get out.  If caught early enough Periodontal disease can be treated with a professional cleaning. 

Another oral disease that dog’s get is plaque and tartar buildup.  Some breads develop buildup faster than others.  The easiest way to prevent plaque and tartar buildup is to have a regular oral hygiene routine with your dog.  This could be cleaning at your vet, and brushing your dog’s teeth at home.  There are also specialty chew toys and treats that can help reduce and delay buildup.  Though once buildup has happened the only way to fully remove is to have a professional cleaning done at the vet’s office.  Some pet foods have a dental diet formula that helps assist with plaque removal.  This will not completely remove plaque or buildup, but if your dog develops plaque quickly this could be a good thing to switch them to to help reduce the buildup.  

Professional cleanings at a vet’s office are a good solution if your dog has extensive plaque and tartar buildup.  The exam will be done under general anesthesia so they can work safely in your dog’s mouth with your dog completely relaxed.  During the exam your dog will get a full oral exam.  X-ray will be taken to see if there are any troubles under the gums.  A full cleaning under the gum line will be done to help prevent Periodontal disease.  Professional scaling will be done to remove plaque and tartar building.  After the scaling is done then the vet will polish your dog’s teeth to help prevent plaque and bacteria building up again.  

There are some signs of tooth problems that your dog may be showing.  If your dog has bad breath.  Bad breath in a dog can be caused by many health problems, one of them being oral disease.  Check your dog’s gums.  Your dog’s gums should be pink.  If they are white, red, swollen or bleeding there is a problem.  Difficulty eating, or refusing to eat can be caused by oral disease.  Excessive drooling is another sign.  Yellow or brown tartar buildup on the gum line can also be a sign of a dental problem.  If your dog shows any signs of these you will want to schedule them in for a vet appointment.  


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Tooth brushing at home for your dog should happen just as regularly as your own tooth brushing.  Now dog’s don’t need as much tooth brushing as humans.  If your dog can tolerate it, brushing their teeth once a day is best.  If you can’t manage that 2-3 times a week, tooth brushing is better than none.  Making it a habit and routine will help your dog grow used to it, and not mind it as much.  If they don’t like it at first that is ok.  Start slow and know that consistency is key.  When brushing your dog’s teeth make sure you stay calm and that they are in a comfortable position.  Start with running your finger over their teeth before introducing the tooth brush.  You do not need to use a toothbrush, you can use gauze wrapped around your finger.  If you do decide to use a toothbrush though, get one that is specific for dogs.  They are made smaller than human toothbrushes.  Never use human toothpaste on your dog.  Make sure you are buying dog toothpaste.  When brushing your dog’s teeth, move from front to back.  

Leaving an oral disease left untreated can lead to tooth loss as well as other infections in your dog’s body that could be life threatening.  Making their dental hygiene important is key to keeping your dog healthy long term.  Dental disease is affecting about 80% of every dog over the age of 3 years old.  Getting a professional cleaning and your vet to check your dog’s mouth can help prevent any dental disease your dog may have.  


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80% of dogs over 3 years old have dental problems!