Brush My Dog's Teeth?

Dogs are succeptible to the same dental ailments as humans, but unlike humans who understand and can care for their own teeth, pet dental care is the responsibility of the owners.

It may be a new idea to brush your dogs teeth, but prevention is key. Dog treats and dog bones can also help, and it's also important to know if your particular breed of dog is at an increased risk for dental problems.

Dog Teeth Eruption and Arrangement:

Puppy teeth erupt when the dog is 3-6 weeks old, and they normally will have 28 puppy teeth. As in humans, these teeth will be lost about the 6-7 month age period, and will be replaced by the dog's 42 permanent teeth. Most dogs have the following permanent teeth, with some normal variation amongst breeds, or there may be extra or missing teeth.

  • 6 upper Incisors in front
  • 6 lower incisors in front
  • 4 canines, one in each quadrant (upper right, upper left, lower right, lower left) of the mouth
  • 4 premolars in each quadrant, 16 total
  • 2 molars in the two upper quadrants, 4 total
  • 3 molars in the two lower quadrants, 6 total

Dogs and Periodontal Disease:

Periodontal disease occurs when the gums are chronically inflamed, and is a bacterial infection which causes the loss of bone supporting the teeth. The end result of which is tooth loss. All teeth need to be cleaned on a daily basis, or else plaque forms, which if left on the teeth becomes calcified and is calledtarter, or calculus, all of which contributes to the destruction of the gums.

It is important to brush your dogs teeth, but certain dog treats, dog bones, and dog toys can also help to remove plaque and calculus from your dog's teeth.

If your pet does get dental problems, most procedures that can be done on humans can also be done on pets. The unfortunate part is that they usually must be done under general anesthesia, so the work may end up being fairly expensive.

Some signs to look for that indicate that your dog may have periodontal disease include:

  • Chronic dog bad breath
  • Bleeding gums or pus around the gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Difficulty eating or loss of appetite
  • Excess drooling

Dogs At Increased Risk:

Brachycephalic dogs, or dogs with a flat face or short snout, such as pugs, are unfortunately more prone to having dental problems due to their anatomical form. When the snouts are short, there is less room for the teeth to erupt, so there is very often crowding, which makes it more difficult to clean, which increases build up, and subsequently periodontal disease.

They also often have constricted airways causing respiratory difficulties, which causes mouth breathing, which dehydrates the mouth, and makes the tarter more difficult to remove and leads to less protective saliva in the dog's mouth.

Some of the following breeds are examples of this phenomenon and are at increased risk for periodontal disease.

  • Pugs
  • Papillions
  • Poodles, Toy and Standard
  • Malteses
  • Yorkshire Terriers

Dog Bad Breath:

As discussed above, buildup of plaque and calculus can definitely cause dog bad breath, so regular pet dental care and use of helpful dog treats and dog bones can be utilized to help prevent this. There are other possible contributing factors to dog bad breath, such as:

  • Periodontal Disease
  • Eating feces, rotten food, or other unusual items
  • Gastrointestinal or kidney issues
  • Diabetes

Pet Dental Care:

Regarding your pet dental care, obviously your dog can't brush his or her own teeth, so you need to do it for him/her. Unfortunately your dog won't understand what you are doing, so it may take awhile for your dog to get used to it. Although, like anything, once your dog gets used to it and it becomes a routine, you should be able to do what needs to be done.

Pet stores have specific tooth brushes for dogs, as well as finger brushes which slip over your finger, dental sponges, and dental pads. You may need to try different products out to see what works best for you and your dog. There are also adjunctive products such as dog treats and dog bones which will help remove some of the plaque and calculus from your dogs teeth.

Your vet may also recommend such products as water piks, chlorhexidine rinses, fluoride, or other items to help keep your dog in the best health possible.

Just make sure you give your dog treats to help keep your pet happy like the little guy below!

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