What kinds of dental problems do dogs have?
Dental disease is as common in dogs as it is in people. The most common form of dental disease in man is decay. In the dog the most common problem is periodontal disease. Tartar builds up and causes irritation of the gums around the base of the teeth. The resulting inflammation is gingivitis. The gums ultimately recede exposing the roots, which leads to infection and ultimate tooth loss.
What can I do to help prevent dental disease in my dog?
In order to help prevent dental disease the prime aim is to keep the mouth as hygienic as possible and to reduce the rate at which tartar builds up on the teeth. Why not book your dog in for a dental health check up with a nurse.
The diet should contain foodstuffs, which encourage chewing, such as tough pieces of meat or specially designed biscuits such as Hill’s t/d. The act of chewing stimulates the production of saliva, which contains natural antibacterial substances; and the mechanical action helps to scrape plaque and tartar off from the teeth. We can supply you with these diets and give you the best advice on how much to feed.
The most effective way of reducing plaque and tartar is to brush the teeth. A number of products including toothpastes, brushes and water additives are available so book in to see the nurse who can provide you with best product for your situation.
Never use human toothpaste on your dogs teeth, as these are not designed to be regularly swallowed and could cause illness.
Isn’t it correct that dogs that eat dry dog food don’t have tartar build-up?
Dry food as well as canine chews and other gnawing toys do reduce the amount of tartar accumulating on the teeth, due to the mechanical abrasive action. However once tartar has formed, professional cleaning under a general anaesthetic is necessary in order to remove it.
What does tartar do to the teeth?
If tartar is allowed to remain on the teeth, several things may happen.
The tartar will mechanically push the gums away from the roots of the teeth. This allows the teeth to loosen in their sockets and infection to enter the root socket. The teeth will loosen and fall out or have to be extracted.
Infection will accumulate in the mouth, resulting in gingivitis, tonsillitis, and pharyngitis (sore throat). Although antibiotics may temporarily suppress the infection, if the tartar is not removed from the teeth, infection will return quickly.
Infection within the mouth will be picked up by the blood stream and carried to other parts of the body. Some kidney and heart disease may be caused by this infection.
What is involved in cleaning my dog’s teeth?
Once tartar has formed, proper cleaning of the teeth requires complete co-operation of the patient so plaque and tartar can be removed. For the dog anaesthesia is required to thoroughly clean the teeth. Although anaesthesia always carries a degree of risk, the modern drugs in use in practice today minimise this risk, even for older dogs.
There are three steps in the cleaning process that will be used on your dog:
- Scaling removes the tartar above and below the gum line. This is achieved with ultrasonic cleaning equipment.
- Polishing smoothes the surface of the teeth, making them resistant to additional plaque formation.
- Flushing removes dislodged tartar from the teeth and helps to remove the bacteria that accompany tartar.
What will I need to do?
An appointment will be necessary and you will be asked not to feed the dog for approximately eight hours before the procedure. Fluids with the exception of water should also be withheld.
On collection a nurse will explain what has been carried out during the day and you will be asked to return after 3 days to check that all is well, particularly if any extractions have been carried out. Advice regarding dental prophylaxis, brushing, cleaning and the use of anti-plaque products will be given. During the discharge you will be given a free pack, which includes information on what products are available and also a free sample of these products.
You will be asked to return after one month to discuss any concerns you may have and see how the home care routine is progressing.
Once your pet has had a dental performed home care is the important issue. You will be sent a reminder to return to the surgery after 6 months to see how you and your pet are getting on with your home care routine.