85% of dogs over the age of 3 show some stage of periodontal disease. Think about it: If we didn’t brush for years on end, our teeth would be falling out from disease. So it is very important to learn about brushing your pet’s teeth and taking her to your veterinarian for regular oral care evaluations and professional cleanings. Ask a veterinarian to answer some common dental questions, and here’s what you’ll learn.
How many teeth do dogs have? Most adult dogs have 42 teeth. For comparison, people typically have 32 permanent teeth.
When do baby teeth fall out, and what happens to them? This is breed and genetically dependent, so baby teeth will fall out at different times. But in general, around 14 to 16 weeks of age, dogs begin losing their incisors (front teeth), with others following in later months. The canine baby teeth (“fangs”) usually fall out when the dog is between four and six months of age.
What is the biggest factor that contributes to dental problems in dogs? The biggest issue is probably periodontal disease, which is inflammation of the teeth’s support structures. Depending on how advanced the disease is, this can affect gums and/or bone.
Will a dental cleaning help my pet’s breath? Dogs should not naturally have bad breath. A thorough dental cleaning and regular brushing at home is going to improve your pet’s breath.
Give your pet something to smile! Be sure to contact your local animal hospital to find a special dental offer that’s right for your pet or click here to find a location near you!
Dental disease is the single most widespread health problem in pets, and we know that good oral hygiene will add an average of 3 years of healthy life states Jamie Przybysz, CVT, at Bush Animal Hospital in Eugene, OR. Time to get out the toothbrush!
Ask your dog to sit or gently position into a seated position. Carefully lift the lips to expose the teeth. Praise the dog frequently during the procedure. Simply examine the gum line for just a minute or two for the next few days. The best time to brush is after the evening meal, when both you and your dog are relaxed. My dog has been familiar with watching me brush my teeth, so I trained him to come and sit while I’m brushing my teeth, then he gets a treat reward before and after his brushing. He learned this routine very quickly!
When your dog is comfortable with sitting and having the lips handled, rub your finger over the teeth and gums for a minute or two. This will get him used to having something in his mouth. Next, put a small amount of specially formulated pet toothpaste onto your finger and allow the pet to taste it.
Next, you may want to graduate to a finger brush or gauze square. Gently rub the gauze over the teeth and along the gumline. You only need to concentrate on the outside of the teeth. Make sure you are reaching the rear molars because this is where the majority of dental disease occurs.
Now, you both may be ready to graduate to a regular bristled toothbrush. Apply a small amount of paste onto the brush. Place the brush bristles at a 45 degree angle to the gumline. Move the brush gently in circular patterns over the teeth. Start by only brushing a few teeth for a few seconds. Don’t forget to praise your dog all along the way! As the brushing sessions continue, include more teeth and build up to about 30 – 60 seconds on each side. The teeth should also be brushed in a back and forth motion. Brushing should be done every 24 – 48 hours.
Jamie Przybysz, CVT
Bush Animal Hospital
2415 Oakmont Way
Eugene, OR 97401
Every day, owners have questions about dental cleanings for their pets. What happens? Is it safe? Why does my pet have to have anesthesia to clean his teeth? We asked our doctors to help explain the procedure, and let you in on what goes on during a routine dental cleaning.
Why is anesthesia necessary?
Much like your experience at the dentist, a dental procedure involves using tools that vibrate at high frequencies, make loud sounds, and spray jets of water. The use of general anesthesia allows your veterinarian full access to the teeth, gums, and below the gum line.
What is involved in a dental procedure?
1. The beginning of the procedure involves cleaning off the tartar and calculus that is firmly adhered to the teeth; this requires both specialized dental tools with sharper edges, and machine assistance. Then a dental machine that utilizes ultrasonic vibrations to break-up mineralized tartar is used to remove remaining build-up on the surfaces of the teeth. A combination of the scaling machine and hand tools are used to remove tartar and calculus both above and below the gum line.
2. The teeth are polished with a mildly abrasive paste and polisher tool to smooth the enamel surfaces.
3. A protective substance, such as fluoride, is applied to the teeth to strengthen the enamel and kill bacteria responsible for dental disease.
Your veterinarian and veterinary technicians function as a team, working and monitoring your pet carefully to provide the best care and ensure safety. Machines are used to keep a close eye on your dog or cat’s vital signs. Veterinarians are trained carefully to provide safe anesthesia, and to make your companion as comfortable as possible. Ask your veterinarian if you have any further questions and concerns about feline dentistry and anesthetic safety.