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Top Tips for Keeping Your Dog’s Teeth Clean

Did you ever come across the old conventional wisdom that a dog's mouth is cleaner than humans? Well, dogs can still develop dental problems like plaque buildup and gingivitis, and many more. Same as us humans, dental issues can lead to your dog suffering from life-threatening infections.

The importance of oral hygiene for your dog

Many dog owners overlook the Importance of oral hygiene. But did you know that 75% of dogs over the age of three have periodontal disease? More often than not, this is the direct result of pet owners neglecting to provide daily oral care.

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues surrounding the teeth that will only worsen over time if left untreated. It starts out as a thin layer of bacterial film on the teeth, which is commonly known as plaque. When these bacteria die, they form a hard and rough substance called tartar or calculus. These increase the surface area on which more plaque can accumulate. If left untreated and to spread, plaque can lead to inflammation of the gums. A red, swollen, and frequently bleeding gum are typical signs for this condition, also known as gingivitis. Towards the final stages of periodontal disease, surrounding teeth tissue is destroyed. Eventually, your pet's bony socket holding the tooth starts to erode, and the tooth loosens. This is an excruciating process for your dog.

Oral hygiene is more than just healthy teeth

Tons of studies have shown that oral inflammations can lead to disease in other areas of the body.

Compromised and weakened gum tissue leaves room for bacteria in your mouth to enter the bloodstream. This way, the bacteria can affect other parts of your dog's body, including vital organs such as the heart.

A study by Purdue University shows a strong connection between gum disease and endocarditis ( infection of the hearts valves). Certain bacteria are also known to make blood clots more likely, which can eventually damage the heart or lead to strokes.

Most crucial Dog Dental Care Tips

Daily Brushing

dog toothbrush

Regularly brushing your dog's teeth is the only effective way to prevent plaque buildup. Your dog probably won't jump out of joy when it sees the brush at first, but eventually, you can turn it into a reasonably pleasant experience for both your dog and you. It is advised to brush your dog's teeth after they had some exercise. This way, your dog will be more inclined to sit still for the entire procedure. However, do not overdo it the first few times. You might consider starting with a small finger brush.  After they get more comfortable with you touching their mouth, move your finger in circular motions over the teeth AND gums. Start adding toothpaste after a few successful times but do NOT use human toothpaste. Human toothpaste includes fluoride, which is extremely poisonous to dogs.

Eventually, your dog gets used to this, and you can switch to a double-headed doggy toothbrush. Make sure to speak soothingly during the process, and do not forget to reward your dog with its favorite treat afterward. Over time your dog should be looking forward to the event.

The earlier you start to create this habit, the easier it is. Grown dogs can learn new tricks. But training them as a puppy will make things a lot easier for yourself

Dog Chew Toys

The best thing you can do for your dog's oral health is to brush his teeth. Doggy dental chew toys are a perfect addition for between brushes. Dental chew toys come in plenty of styles and varieties, can be edible or to satisfy their natural urge to chew.

A nice bone to chew on can help to clean and keep the teeth healthy, but it is not a substitute for daily brushing. This would be kind of like us humans solely relying on chewing gum for oral hygiene routine.

Dentist Visits

dentist dog

Visit your veterinarian for annual or semiannual teeth cleaning. A professional clean performed by your vet is the only effective way to remove any already built-up tartar.  Keep in mind that your dog could be in pain even though they do not show any signs. Only a professional has the ability to spot whatever is going wrong with your dog that you might have missed. One thing is for sure, the mouth of your pet will be in a lot better health after a good professional cleaning.

Besides these annual check-ups, you should have a regular look inside your pet's mouth.  If you notice any of the following signs of dental issues, then take your dog to the vet.

When to see a veterinarian:

  • Bad breath
  • Depression
  • Excessive saliva production
  • Missing or misaligned teeth
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Bleeding gum
  • Bumps or growth within the mouth
  • Constant pawing at the mouth
  • Sudden change in eating or chewing habits

Proper Diet

Talk to your veterinarian about formulating an adequate diet plan that keeps your dog's teeth in good shape. Some dog owners also use special dog foods that are specially formulated to improve dental health. Also, hard and crunchy kibble is better for your dog's teeth than soft food. Soft food is more likely to get stuck in between the teeth and can cause decay.
How do you keep your dog’s teeth healthy? Do you have other tips and tricks that we might have missed? Let us know in the comments below.

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