How often should dogs get their teeth cleaned?

The health of your dog's teeth affects their overall health as well as the comfort that they feel on a daily basis. Today, our Rochester vets discuss the importance of dental care and how often you should be cleaning your dog's teeth.

The Importance of Dental Care For Dogs

Your dog's teeth play a crucial role in their everyday life. From playing to eating, it's important that your dog's teeth are strong and healthy. In order to keep them this way you need to ensure regular care and cleaning.

When a dog's dental health is neglected, it can cause serious oral health concerns such as periodontal disease which is otherwise known as gum disease. Periodontal disease has been associated with various systemic diseases among dogs and other animals.

Periodontal disease in dogs has been linked to heart disease due to bacteria entering the bloodstream from the mouth, potentially causing problems with other organs and damaging heart function. These complications are in addition to the more obvious issue of pain caused by eroded gums and missing or damaged teeth.

At-home oral health care routines, combined with dental diets and treats, can go a long way toward assisting your pup in cleaning their teeth and controlling plaque and tartar buildup. However, if you want to provide the best lifelong care for your dog then routine oral examinations and dental cleanings done by their veterinary dentist are imperative.

When you prioritize your pet's annual wellness exam, we can be proactive about signs of periodontal diseases, such as gingivitis, bad breath, tooth decay, gum loss, and pain.

You should ensure that you always bring your dog to their pet dentist for professional cleaning, otherwise, he or she may develop gingivitis, periodontal disease, bad breath, and, in severe cases, pain, tooth decay, and tooth loss.

How often should you clean your dog's teeth?

Your vet will recommend the ideal frequency at which you should be cleaning your dog's teeth based on a number of factors. We go into these factors in greater detail below.

Factors That Contribute to the Frequency of Dental Cleanings

Older dogs require more dental care than younger dogs, simply because time, diet, and eating habits all contribute to oral decay. If your dog is over the age of seven, they should have regular visits with their veterinary dentist to ensure their teeth and gums continue to stay healthy.

How Dental Care Can Change Based on Breed and Age

While all dogs require dental care and cleanings performed by veterinary dentists, small dogs may require earlier and more frequent professional dental care compared to larger breeds of dogs. This is because their teeth are large in comparison to their mouths, causing overcrowding. Smaller breeds of dogs are known to end up with an issue related to retained baby teeth after their adult teeth have grown in.

Pugs, bulldogs, and Shih Tzus, for example, and others with short faces and noses are more prone to dental disease. Small dogs have very shallow tooth roots, so any type of periodontal disease can be more severe in them than in larger dogs. Another breed-related dental issue is malocclusion, which occurs when the jaws are misaligned and do not connect properly.

Larger dogs do not have the same dental concerns as small dogs, but they are more prone to damaged or cracked teeth as a result of strong chewing habits, which can cause oral pain, loss of appetite, and irritable behavior. You can look to your vet for recommendations on how often to schedule your dog for professional care and what you can do at home to meet your dog's specific needs.

How the Lifestyle of Your Dog Affects Their Dental Health

The overall health of your dog and their lifestyle also have an effect on how often you should be cleaning their teeth. If you brush your dog's teeth regularly and feed him dry food or a dental diet, these precautions may help in the time between professional cleanings with their pet dentist in Rochester. In addition, if your dog is not a chewer and eats mostly soft food, they may require more frequent cleaning.

What happens during a professional dental cleaning?

You should bring your pup in for annual dental evaluations and cleanings. Our Rochester vets will examine your dog's mouth for early signs of disease during this visit. The common signs of dental disease include:

  • Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
  • Bleeding in or around the mouth
  • Inflamed gums
  • Pain associated with chewing
  • Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
  • Discolored teeth
  • Loose or broken teeth
  • Drooling
  • Bad breath

If your dog is showing any of the symptoms listed above you should contact your vet to schedule a visit. Along with being painful, dental issues can lead to serious complications if left untreated.

Our veterinary dentists in Rochester examine all pets to ensure that they are healthy enough to undergo anesthesia and, if necessary, perform additional diagnostics to ensure that cleaning is safe for your pet. We will perform a full oral exam (tooth-by-tooth) with charting (just like your dentist does during your examinations) and x-ray the teeth once your pet has been safely sedated. X-rays are necessary for the medical team to understand the extent of periodontal disease beneath the gum line, which typically reveals hidden diseases.

Once your dog's vet gathers the necessary info from a full oral exam, charting, and x-rays, we can create a customized treatment plan for your pet that includes cleaning and polishing your pup’s teeth, both above and below the gum line.

Caring For Your Dog's Teeth at Home

When it comes to protecting your dog's dental you will play a vital role. Our vets in Rochester offer a few easy ways that you can help to keep your dog's teeth clean and healthy:

  • Use a finger brush from your dog's veterinary dentist or a child’s toothbrush along with specially designed pet toothpaste to brush your pet’s teeth daily to remove any plaque or debris.
  • Use a plaque prevention product that their pet dentist recommends, which you can apply to your pet’s teeth and gums or add to their drinking water. These products act as a barrier to prevent plaque buildup.
  • Offer your pup treats such as dental chews or special foods designed to help prevent plaque buildup and tartar.

Dental care is an important part of your pet's overall health. Be sure to book your pet's annual dental exam with their vet in Rochester today, your dog will thank you. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you need to book your dog in for a dental cleaning or examination? Contact our Rochester veterinarians today to schedule an appointment.