A Vet Answered All Our Questions About Dental Disease, the No. 1 Health Issue In Dogs

This article has been updated.

When it comes to your dog’s health, one of the most overlooked areas is the mouth – which can be detrimental to their health. In fact, dental disease is the number one disease. 1 Health problems faced by dogs, more than 80% of dogs will develop this problem by the age of three. Not only do our four-legged friends suffer from swollen gums, loose teeth, tissue destruction, and bone loss, but bad bacteria in their mouths can also seep into their bloodstream, affecting the heart, liver, and kidneys. It can even be fatal.

Fortunately, dental disease can be controlled and prevented. While regular dental care starts at home, including brushing your dog's teeth and using dental products like our Bye, Bye Dog Breath Dental Power and Teeth Wands, dog parents also need to make regular trips to the veterinarian to reduce dental cleanings. Plaque and tartar formation.

Goodbye Dog Breathing Powder

Bye, Bye Dog Breath Dental Powder was developed by veterinarians and is packed with natural ingredients to help keep teeth clean and plaque-free while supporting gums and freshening breath. The powder contains natural zeolite that acts as a mild abrasive to prevent plaque formation.


We spoke with Dr. Stapleton of Barrington Animal Hospital to discuss some of the top questions related to dog dental care.

RELATED: 7 Natural Ways to Stop Bad Breath in Dogs

TDL: What do good gums look like?

Healthy gums are pink, hard, and show no signs of gum recession, with exposed tooth roots. Unhealthy gums can become red, more brittle, and prone to bleeding when toys are chewed.

TDL: How do I know if my dog's teeth are bothering him or if his mouth is sore?

Dr. Stapleton: Shyness can be a sign of oral pain, as can lip smacking. Excessive drooling often occurs for a day or two after a tooth breaks and exposes the pulp (the nerve canal in the center of the tooth's root). Not wanting to chew on bones or toys much or at all and changes in eating habits may also be warning signs that dental disease is present and causing pain.

But remember, it’s sometimes difficult to assess your pet’s pain because they have an innate instinct to mask pain until it becomes unbearable—in essence, they become prey if they show weakness . Often, the only subtle changes are present, such as being more or less clingy, slowing down (wrongly attributed to aging), rubbing their face on carpets or furniture, and with proper dental care, these The behavior will disappear. It’s common to hear of dogs acting like puppies again after receiving treatment.

TDL: What will happen to my pet if dental problems are not treated promptly?

Dr. Stapleton: When you have periodontal disease, bacteria can enter the bloodstream and affect vital organs such as the kidneys, liver, and heart.

Teeth can also fall out as they become mobile due to bone loss, making chewing painful.

A broken tooth can eventually turn into an abscess, which can also be painful.

One side of the face can swell when you stand for long periods of time. Although the condition responds temporarily to antibiotics, the condition will continue to recur until the tooth is extracted.

When a tooth first breaks and the nerve (pulp) is exposed, it can be extremely painful. Bacteria invade the pulp and cause the tooth to die. If caught early, critical teeth can be saved with root canal treatment. If cavities are not detected and removed or repaired early, they will invade the pulp chamber and cause similar consequences to a broken tooth.

Some lower canine malocclusions (misaligned teeth) can cause injuries to the upper jaw that, if left untreated, can travel through the upper jaw bone and into the nasal cavity.

Benign oral growths can accelerate the onset of periodontal disease by providing a gap for bacteria between the teeth and the growth. Oral malignant growths can quickly become life-threatening unless detected early.

TDL: When should my dog ​​have his first cleaning?

Dr. Stapleton: Generally speaking, your dog's teeth should be professionally cleaned every one to three years, depending on the size of the tooth. The smaller the breed, the more often the teeth will need cleaning as they are susceptible to periodontal disease, or bone loss around the roots of the teeth due to plaque, tartar and bacteria below the gum line. Teeth should be cleaned when plaque or calculus or mineralized plaque is visible on the crown and/or bad breath occurs.

TDL: What questions should pet owners ask about their dog’s mouth during an exam?

Dr. Stapleton: Pet owners should be asked to check for evidence of gingivitis, including redness and inflammation of the gums, gum recession, periodontal pocket formation, oral growths, worn or broken teeth, malocclusion or tooth misalignment that results in an uncomfortable bite or cavities, leading to Teeth bite is uncomfortable.

TDL: If my pet is having his teeth professionally cleaned, what should I know about anesthesia?

Dr. Stapleton: Most importantly, you should know whether the doctor will be present while your pet is under anesthesia.

Also ask what type of anesthesia will be used and what type of monitoring equipment will be used.

Anesthesia is relatively safe and has made huge improvements over the years. Unfortunately, risks are always present but can be minimized through careful monitoring, temperature control, and appropriate preoperative blood testing.

It is very rare for a pet to be unable to receive anesthesia due to concurrent medical problems, but it does occasionally happen. In this case, diligent home care to minimize plaque and tartar buildup is crucial to maintaining oral health.

Anesthesia-free cleanings are attractive, but scaling below the gum line where periodontal disease begins is difficult, and treatment of early lesions is impossible. Additionally, there is no access to the inside of the teeth for cleaning/probing, and the molars in the back of the mouth where periodontal disease often exists cannot be adequately inspected or cleaned. Pets do not sit and open their mouths like people. They tend to move to varying degrees, and injury from instrument slippage is a potential complication. Dental radiography or X-rays are also not possible, and a great deal of “hidden” pathology is missed when the pet is not anesthetized.

TDL: What procedure is performed when my dog’s teeth are cleaned?

Dr. Stapleton: A dental cleaning should include the following: Scaling the crown, then cleaning under the gums of all teeth, using a revealing solution to determine if any plaque was missed, then rescaling, polishing all surfaces of the teeth, detecting loss, and having the gums examined by a veterinarian Attachment status and evidence of periodontal disease, root planing and subgingival curettage (scraping of root surface and removal of pocket lining) of all early treatable pockets, veterinary visual inspection to detect any breakage or wear Cavities and dental radiographs of the tooth, lump in the mouth, or at least the suspected area, preferably the entire mouth.

TDL: How do I maintain my pet’s oral health at home?

Dr. Stapleton: If your pet is willing, daily brushing will help keep their teeth healthy. But it’s important to remember that we brush and floss multiple times a day, but we still need to clean our teeth. The same goes for pets, and home care doesn't eliminate the need for professional cleaning; it just helps increase the time between cleanings. Starting with smearing peanut butter on the brush can help make the procedure more receptive to hesitant dogs.

There are also many dental products on the market, from water additives to mouthwash and gels, tartar control snacks, bones and even food.

Goodbye Dog Breathing Stick

Bye, Bye Dog Breathing Sticks were developed by veterinarians and are packed with natural ingredients to help keep your dog's mouth clean. With its targeted and simple system, the double-layer wand makes cleaning a breeze. The outer layer of the dental stick helps reduce plaque, prevent tartar buildup, and remove bacteria. The inner layer supports healthy gums and freshens breath.


RELATED: Dogs have bad breath? Here are 4 simple toothpastes you can make at home.

TDL: How to prevent dental disease?

Dr. Stapleton: Once the permanent teeth erupt (approximately 6 months of age), begin diligent home care from an early age, with professional dental cleanings by your veterinarian at appropriate intervals.

RELATED: 5 Easy Dog Treats You Can Make at Home to Freshen Your Dog's Breath

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