What You Need to Know About
Your Dog’s Oral Health
As humans we know how important good dental hygiene is. The thing is, it’s also very
important for pets, but often dismissed. If left unchecked, dental disease in dogs can cause
other health problems, for example heart, lung and even kidney disease. However, if you
are vigilant about your pet’s dental care you can prevent dental disease and its downfalls.
This infection, which takes hold in progressive stages, affects the tissue surrounding the
It all starts with plaque, which is a bacterial film that attaches to the teeth. The bacteria
then dies, hardens from calcium in the saliva and forms a hard, rough substance (tartar) on
top of which more plaque accumulates!
So, while plaque is still soft, it can be removed by brushing and chewing the right hard
foods and safe toys. If the plaque remains and spreads it can lead to gingivitis, a state
where the gums are inflamed. The gums become red, swollen and usually bleed easily.
Once the plaque gets below the gumline, you’ll need to consult a professional to manage
and solve the problem. If you don’t do anything about the build-up, the part around the
root of the tooth can become infected. Eventually, the surrounding tooth tissue is
destroyed and the socket that holds the tooth erodes. This will cause the tooth to become
loose. The whole process is painful for your dog. Your responsibility is to make sure this
process doesn’t even start.
WHAT ARE ORAL EXAMINATIONS?
During vet visits, ask for oral checkups to look for issues with baby teeth, missing/extra
teeth, swelling or any other unusual developments, especially for older dogs. Your vet
will also be able to tell you more about plaque and tartar build-up, diseases to be
aware of and oral tumors. A basic check can be done while your dog is awake while
more comprehensive examinations may need anesthetic.
Pet teeth X-rays (dental radiographs) are used for evaluation and detecting
abnormalities not otherwise visible.
WHAT IS DENTAL CLEANING?
Some vets recommend frequent examinations to determine if yearly dental cleanings are
needed for adult dogs which usually happen under general anesthesia (with intubation).
Before your dog goes for a cleaning under general anesthesia
Your vet needs to make sure your dog is healthy enough to go under general anesthesia.
Tests can include blood tests, urine tests, X-rays and electrocardiography (ECG).
WHAT HAPPENS DURING THE PROCEDURE?
• Your dog’s vital signs are carefully monitored.
• Vets remove plaque and tartar from your dog’s teeth
and use a special paste for polishing.
• Fluoride/sealants are applied to help prevent (or at least delay) future build-up
and to strengthen as well as desensitise teeth.
Brush your dog’s teeth and take him or her for dental check-ups for a longer, happier, healthier life.