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Do Dogs Need A Dentist?

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Dogs need professional teeth cleaning from a dentist to prevent dental diseases and tooth loss.
  • During a dental visit, the vet dentist evaluates the dog's oral health and performs procedures such as cleaning, polishing, and fluoride application.
  • At-home dental care includes regular tooth brushing, using dog-friendly toothpaste, providing healthy food and safe chew toys, and keeping clean and available water.
  • Good dental hygiene helps prevent broken teeth, tooth loss, bad breath, periodontal diseases, oral pain, organ damage, and worse dental damage.
  • Dogs should go to the veterinary dentist at least once a year, and more frequently if they have existing dental conditions or predisposed dental illnesses.
A pet lover passionate about educating readers about animal health and care. Love reading studies and recent research.
Zoo and wildlife doctor in veterinary medicine passionate about animal welfare and preventive medicine.
Published on
Tuesday 27 September 2022
Last updated on
Tuesday 6 June 2023
Do Dogs Need A Dentist?
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Taking care of our teeth is crucial for staying healthy. We brush our teeth after every meal to remove leftover food from our mouths. We also see the dentist at least twice a year.

But what about our furry family members? They eat multiple times a day, but they can’t brush their teeth like we can. So, should we brush their teeth for them? And do dogs need professional teeth cleaning from a veterinarian? Let’s explore.

Do Dogs Need Professional Teeth Cleaning From a Dentist? 

For humans, the absence of toothbrushing leads to several dental diseases. Food stays on the teeth and builds plaque. Accumulated plaque develops into tartar which is even harder to remove. And without any intervention, this tartar will then become tooth decay and lead to tooth loss. The same risk happens to dogs too. So, yes, dogs need professional teeth cleaning from a dentist

It may seem odd at first because we aren’t used to dogs having dental checkups. Some of us may even be guilty of taking our dogs’ dental health for granted. If you haven’t yet, now is the time to be informed and start creating proper dental hygiene for your pup.

Having healthy dental practices helps you avoid medical problems for your dog. Some of the most common dental issues for dogs without dental care include gingivitis, periodontitis, and tooth loss. And let’s not forget the annoying bad breath when you don’t brush your dog’s teeth. 

What Will the Dog Dentist Do? 

Dental care is crucial for dogs, and veterinarians recommend at least one visit per year. However, some dogs may require more frequent visits, especially brachycephalic dogs who are predisposed to dental diseases. If you’ve never taken your furry friend to the vet, you might be wondering what happens during a dental visit. Here are the most common things your veterinarian will do during your dog’s dental checkup:

  1. Check for bad breath. The veterinarian will check for the first sign of gum disease, which is smelly breath.
  2. Look for red, bleeding, or swollen gums. These are other signs of gum problems.
  3. Inspect any broken, missing, or discolored teeth.
  4. Evaluate your dog’s bite. The veterinarian will also ensure that your dog’s upper and lower teeth meet correctly.
  5. Check other parts of the mouth. Aside from your dog’s teeth, the veterinarian will also inspect your dog’s tonsils, cheek tissues, tongue, palate, the area under the tongue, and lip margins.
  6. Examine the lymph nodes and joints along the jaw.

After a thorough evaluation, the veterinarian will perform any necessary procedures. Canine dental cleaning is done under anesthesia. During this process, the vet will remove the calculus from the gum line and smooth out any rough surfaces of the tooth. They’ll also remove any dead gum tissues, wash the area under the gum line, apply fluoride, and polish the teeth. Sounds like a regular dental cleaning for humans, doesn’t it?

If the veterinarian detects periodontal pockets or other symptoms, they’ll give you specific instructions for at-home care for your dog.

Overall, it’s essential to maintain your dog’s dental health, and regular checkups are a crucial part of their overall well-being.

Importance of Dental Care For Dogs 

Now you know what happens during your dog’s dentist visit. You might ask, is dog dental cleaning necessary? To gauge if dental care is an essential part of your dog, let’s check out its importance. We have selected these benefits and briefly explained how they relate to good dog dental work:  

Prevents Broken Tooth 

Bacteria can thrive in the tooth when it is not cleaned. These organisms wreak havoc and lessen the strength of your dog’s teeth. When the gums are infected, their support to the root of the teeth will also weaken. So, when your dog tries to bite hard surfaces like bones, their teeth may break easily. Constant brushing of the teeth will clear up any bacteria in your dog’s mouth. 

Prevents Tooth Loss 

Prolonged damage to your dog’s teeth deteriorates its supporting structures. This results in the loss of a tooth. Choosing to take proper care of your dog’s teeth will help keep these structures healthy. Tooth loss can be painful and makes it difficult for your dog to eat. It can lead to more severe problems like malnutrition or other health issues. 

Fights Bad Breath 

Sometimes people think dogs having bad breath is normal because they chew on different things. But, bad breath in dogs is already a sign of bacteria build-up in the mouth. The stinky breath is coming from the food that sticks to your dog’s teeth. These food particles are a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Eradicate the presence of bacteria and bad breath by practicing good dental hygiene for your dogs. 

Avoids Periodontal Diseases 

According to a study, 90% of dogs develop some form of periodontal disease by the age of two. Periodontal disease is a gradual gum illness in dogs that may not be spotted easily until it’s too late. The role of prevention is crucial because the early stage of the disease is not that visible. It lurks and continues to worsen below the gums. Starting good dental hygiene in dogs helps prevent periodontitis.  

Prevents Oral Pain

Inflammation caused by tooth and gum diseases can cause pain. Like humans, dogs experience discomfort from dental diseases. This would affect their mood and appetite. Aside from that, it may also progress to more serious conditions.  A simple routine such as brushing your dog’s teeth can be a huge help for prevention. 

Avoids Organ Damage

Would you believe the bacteria from the mouth could affect the entire body? Bacteremia is the process by which the bacteria from the plaque on the teeth enter the bloodstream. Once it stays in the bloodstream, it’s easy for it to reach other parts of the body. Making sure your dog’s teeth are clean and free of bacteria can help avoid organ damage.

Prevents Worse Dental Damage 

Because it’s hard to spot dental diseases, dogs tend to develop one by three years old. It’s almost inevitable, especially for breeds that are predisposed to dental issues. Regular tooth brushing and frequent check-ups will help prevent existing dental conditions from worsening. 

Dental Care at Home

Should I get my dog’s teeth cleaned?”. Yes! Dental care is needed and beneficial to your dog’s health. But for some who are unfamiliar with or haven’t done it yet, you might think it’s hard.  Professional cleaning is good for your dog, but you can’t do it every day at home. So here are our tips for your dog’s dental care at home:

Brush Their Teeth Regularly

Just like humans, a routine as simple as tooth brushing can go a long way. But, it might be a bit challenging to do for dogs. It doesn’t have to be after every meal. Brushing your dog’s teeth three times a week is a good start. Train your dog to get used to being held in the mouth. While they are still puppies, let them experience normal mouth inspection. A study revealed that owners who have trouble inspecting their dog’s mouths often lead poor dental care for their dogs. 

Use Dog-Friendly Toothpaste

Never use normal toothpaste on your dogs. Human-grade toothpaste contains chemicals that are toxic to dogs. Choose a toothpaste designed for dogs. Opt for enzymatic toothpaste with good flavor to help you brush your dog’s teeth. 

Give Them Healthy Food 

Food is vital in keeping your dog healthy, including the teeth and gums. Choose high-quality dog food with vitamins and minerals that support the bones and teeth. Avoid giving human food to your dog, especially sugary ones. These types of food offer no nutritional value to your dog. Instead, they are food for the bacteria to thrive in your dog’s mouth

Provide Safe Chew Toys 

Giving dental chews to dogs on top of their usual healthy meals helps lessen plaque and oral malodor. This is according to a study on the benefits of dental chews on dogs. If brushing your dog’s teeth daily is a challenge, you can opt for dental treats. Make sure to give the right size of treats to your dog. Allot a specific time for your dog to enjoy the dental chew. Take it after the specified time and store it properly.

Keep Their Water Clean and Available 

Hydration is essential to your dog’s health. So, water should always be available to your dog, especially during hot summer days. Not only that, their water should be clean. This helps prevent diseases from dirty water. Plus, it also wards off bacteria from the unsafe water.

Do Dogs Need A Dentist: FAQs

We have tackled the process, importance, benefits, and tips for dental care for your dogs. You are now equipped with enough knowledge to start a healthy dental routine for your pooch. Here are some extra notes from frequently asked questions about this topic:

How often should you bring your dog to the dentist?

You should take your dog to a veterinary dentist at least once a year. For dogs with existing dental conditions, it’s best to have a check-up every six months. The dentist will also tell you what is the best frequency of visits for your dog depending on their age, breed, and health condition. 

Do dogs really need a dental cleaning?

Same with humans, yes, dogs need a dental cleaning. Plaque and tartar are hard to remove at home. So professional cleaning under general anesthesia should be done at least once a year. This is also a good opportunity for the doggy dentist to examine your dog’s dental health. Any progressing dental diseases will be caught early on. 

How do I know if my dog needs a dentist?

Aside from the routine annual checks, your dog needs a dentist when you see visible signs of dental disease. This includes redness and swelling of the gums, bleeding, and broken or missing a tooth. When you notice your dog’s appetite has changed and he is in pain, you’ll need to have him checked too. 

What happens if your dog’s teeth aren’t cleaned?

Many medical conditions can arise from the absence of dental hygiene for your dog. It starts with the food particles building up and forming plaque and tartar. This becomes the breeding ground for bacteria causing infection not only on the teeth but on the gums. As bacteria multiply, they get to the bloodstream and cause serious organ damage.

How would I know if my dog has teeth problems?

Dental conditions may still arise despite trying to keep a regular cleaning routine. Aside from brushing your dog’s teeth, inspect their mouth frequently for any redness, swelling, or missing tooth. These are signs of advanced gum disease. Sometimes, dogs can be good at disguising pain, and this makes it hard to notice issues right away. Regular visits to the vet will help in catching any dental disease early before it becomes worse. 

Taking dental care for granted can cause serious effects on your dog’s health. Luckily, you can prevent dental diseases by following good dental hygiene. Visiting the doggy dentist at least once a year will also help prevent gum diseases from developing or worsening. Every time you brush your teeth, always remember your lovable pooch needs to have his teeth brushed too.

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