How does dental health impact the overall health of my dog?

Dental health is one of the most important ways to keep your dog healthy long term. Any bacteria or infection that's going on in the mouth can affect the dog for the rest of its life. We really feel it's important to keep your dog's mouth as healthy as possible.

Dr. Jesse Saul
Aspen Veterinary Clinic

How can I take care of my dog's teeth at home?

The best way to take care of your dog's teeth at home is daily brushing. It's really important to brush those teeth. I know that sounds rough for some but it is truly the best way to keep your dog's teeth healthy. Second to daily teeth brushing, there are some really good dental chews on the market that can be really beneficial that can supplement your daily toothbrushing.

What are some signs and symptoms of dental disease in dogs?

The first and most obvious is bad breath. If there's any sign of bad breath, that means that we have some type of bacterial overgrowth that is creating that mal odor. Once you start actually looking in your dog's mouth, you can see signs that can be anything from redness around the teeth to plaque and tartar on the teeth themselves. And in some situations, it can progress from there to be so much worse. But bad breath is always the first sign.

What are some of the common dental diseases in dogs?

The two most common that we see is gingivitis or gum disease, and the second is periodontal disease, which is a progression of gingivitis to the point where it's actually affecting the bone that the teeth are sitting in. Periodontal disease is a more severe form of gingivitis or dental disease.

Why is early detection and diagnosis of dental disease so important?

Animals are really good at hiding things. They're not going to let you know that there's a problem until it becomes something very obvious. The best way to keep an animal healthy long-term is to take good care of their mouth. If we take good care of our mouths, we live longer and we have more fulfilled lives. So we want to do the same for any of our furry friends.

How often should a dog's teeth be checked?

I recommend a minimum of once a year during your pet's annual wellness exam. At that time, the veterinarian will do a thorough oral exam. Usually, in my experience, for most animals, they require a dental cleaning once a year. In some situations where owners are doing a really good job with teeth brushing and dental chews, that can be extended out to every two years. Just like us, even though you brush your teeth and floss, you still go to the dentist twice a year and have your teeth professionally cleaned. I really believe that's the best thing for our furry friends as well.

What is a professional dental cleaning like for a dog?

For our veterinary patients, a thorough dental cleaning does require putting that animal under anesthesia so we can take radiographs of the jaw as well as of the teeth themselves. We can evaluate each tooth, make sure that each tooth is healthy. We can evaluate all of the soft tissue structures, meaning the tongue, the gums, the lips, in addition to the teeth, and then we do a full cleaning where we remove any plaque, tartar. We're actually using subsonic to get below the gum line to clean any plaque or tartar out from under the gum line, as well as anything that you can see as the owner above the gum line. Once we're finished with all of that, we put a sealant over the top of the teeth to try to prevent plaque and tartar from building back up.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (928) 526-2423, or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram

Dog Dental - FAQs

Dr. Jesse Saul
Aspen Veterinary Clinic

What does a healthy dog's mouth look like?

A healthy dog's mouth is just like your mouth when you leave the dentist. It is clean and you see no plaque, no tartar, there's no redness, there's no bleeding of the gums, and especially there's no odor. That's one of the big things that we see as a first sign of dental disease in our canine patients.

What kind of dental and oral problems can dogs have?

The two biggest problems that we see in vet med are one, gingivitis, which is inflammation of the gums. Usually what that looks like for an owner is you see a rim of red around the tooth right at the level of the gum line. That's the first sign of gum disease or gingivitis. In time, that can progress to periodontal disease, which is disease below the gum line that's affecting the alveolar bone or the bone of the jaw that holds the root of the tooth in place. These are both prevented with a lot of the things that we're going to be talking about.

Why might my dog need x-rays?

The only way for us to know the full health of a mouth is to take oral x-rays or radiographs, which give us an idea of what's happening below the gum line. When you look at your dog's mouth, all you can see is the crown of the tooth, which is kind of like the tip of the iceberg. It's the top half of the tooth, but ultimately the bottom half of the tooth, the part that's stuck in the jaw is the most important part of that tooth. The only way that we can evaluate that is by taking oral x-rays or radiographs.

How are issues addressed during my dog's initial oral exam? Do I have to schedule a follow-up appointment?

Here at Aspen Vet Clinic, during any of our wellness exams or wellness visits, our doctors are evaluating a full physical exam, including looking at your pet's mouth and oral health. During that initial examination, we can get a pretty good idea of whether or not it's important for your dog to undergo a dental procedure or a dental cleaning in order to properly clean and evaluate the full health of your pet's mouth.

Why would my dog need extractions?

Extractions or surgical removal of a tooth is not something that any of us as veterinarians want to do. We will only make that decision if it's in the best interest of your pet. Those reasons for needing an extraction would be pain, infection, or in rare situations, if we're trying to save another tooth that is sometimes a more important tooth from a structural standpoint. When we do perform extractions, those are surgical extractions. It's oral surgery where we make sure that we're providing any pain relief and medication necessary to keep the pet comfortable following that extraction. But in most situations, that tooth has been compromised to the point where we can no longer keep that tooth healthy and it's in the animal's best interest to extract or surgically remove that tooth.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (928) 526-2423, or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram