Painful tooth decay and gum disease are common our canine companions, making regular dental exams and cleanings an essential part of your pup's annual preventive care schedule. Today, our Los Angeles vets explain how to clean a dog's mouth and keep your pup's teeth in great condition.

Why Dental Care for Dogs is Essential

Your dog's oral health is an essential element of their overall well-being. Dogs often begin showing signs of periodontal disease (gum disease) by the time they reach about 3 years of age. This early start to dental disease can have serious negative consequences for their long-term health. 

In humans, studies have shown a link between periodontal disease and heart disease and this appears to hold true for our pets as well.

The link between heart disease and periodontal disease in dogs is due to bacteria entering the bloodstream from the mouth, damaging heart function and causing issues with other organs. These health issues are in addition to the more obvious problem of pain caused by eroded gums, and missing or damaged teeth.

Pairing dental treats with at-home oral health care routines can help your pooch keep their teeth clean and control the buildup of plaque and tartar. Nonetheless, taking your dog to the vet for an annual dental exam and hygiene cleaning is the best way to ensure that your pup's mouth stays clean and healthy.

Neglecting annual dental cleaning could put your dog at risk of developing gingivitis, periodontal disease, bad breath, and in severe cases pain, tooth decay and tooth loss.

Risks Associated with Professional Dog Teeth Cleaning

Our vets assess all pets to ensure that they are healthy enough to handle anesthesia and conduct additional diagnostics if required to ensure that a dental exam while anesthetized is safe for your pet because any procedure performed under anesthesia comes with risks.

The Dog Teeth Cleaning Process

In order to help prevent your dog from developing tooth decay and periodontal disease, our Los Angeles vets at Rancho Park Veterinary Clinic recommend bringing your dog in for a dental appointment at least once each year, or more frequently if they are suffering from more severe or recurring dental problems.

When you bring your dog to Rancho Park Veterinary Clinic for a dental checkup our vets will perform a full oral examination for your pooch and check for signs of dental issues, such as:

  • Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
  • Bleeding around the mouth
  • Swelling or pain in or around the mouth
  • Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
  • Discolored teeth
  • Loose or
  • Broken teeth
  • Bad breath

If you notice symptoms of periodontal disease in your pet, such as reduced appetite (which may indicate tooth pain), abnormal chewing, drooling, dropping food from the mouth, bad breath, or other symptoms, make sure to contact your vet immediately to schedule a dental appointment for your pet. If you leave oral health issues untreated, they can become severe and cause your pet a great deal of pain and discomfort.

After your pet is safely sedated, your vet will perform a full tooth-by-tooth examination, complete with charting, (just like your dentist does during your examinations).

While we have your dog safely and comfortably under anesthesia, we will thoroughly clean and polish your pup's teeth, both above and below the gum line. We probe and x-ray the teeth, then to help protect against future decay and damage we use a fluoride treatment before applying a dental sealant to prevent plaque buildup.

If your pooch is suffering from advanced periodontal disease, we will work with you to develop a treatment plan to help restore your dog's mouth to a pain-free and healthy state.

Recovery Time After Teeth Cleaning

Your pooch can begin recovering from the anesthetic within a few hours, although in some cases it can take 24-48 hours to fully recover. During this time, your dog might appear drowsy and experience a decrease in appetite.

Cost of Dog Teeth Cleaning

The cost of dog dental cleaning varies widely due to a number of factors including the size of your dog, the condition of your dog's teeth, where you live, and your individual vet. Contact your vet to get an accurate estimate for having your dog's teeth cleaned. 

Regular veterinary dental care can help avoid more invasive and expensive procedures, including surgeries. Taking regular care will enable your vet to proactively take steps to help prevent advanced tooth decay and gum disease, which can cause pain, tooth loss, and jaw deterioration.

How to Clean Your Dog's Teeth

Many pet parents wonder if they should brush their dog's teeth. Our vets believe that starting a regular oral hygiene routine for your pup while their young can help to prevent dental issues from arising as your pet gets older, that includes brushing your dog's teeth.

Here are a few ways to keep your dog's mouth healthy:

  • Use a finger brush from your vet, or a child’s toothbrush to brush your pet’s teeth daily to remove any plaque or debris. It's as simple as brushing your own teeth. If your dog resists having their teeth cleaned try some doggie toothpaste in flavors your pooch will find irresistible. These special dog-friendly kinds of toothpaste can turn a chore into a treat.
  • Use a plaque prevention product (your vet can recommend some), which you can apply to your pet’s teeth and gums. These products act as a barrier to prevent plaque buildup.
  • Offer your pup treats such as dental chews or food designed to help prevent plaque buildup and tartar.
  • Take your dog to the vet for a dental exam and cleaning every year, or if your dog shows signs of an oral health problem such as a broken tooth, or discolored teeth.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Are you concerned about your dog's dental health? Contact our vets at Rancho Park Veterinary Clinic to book an appointment.