Every dog owner wants their dog to live a long, healthy, and happy life, but did you know that brushing their teeth could make a difference to whether or not they’ll achieve this? Oral hygiene and proper dental care are just as important for dogs as they are for humans. Let’s look at the importance of teeth cleaning for dogs and find out if regularly brushing their teeth could help your canine companion to live longer.
One of the main concerns for the dental health of dogs is periodontal disease. Also known as gum disease, it will affect around 1 in 3 dogs by their 3rd birthday. Unless it is controlled, it can have potentially severe consequences for your dog.
Periodontal disease is actually much more common in dogs than decay. It occurs when plaque that forms on the teeth from eating and drinking starts to spread onto the gum tissue because it hasn’t been removed by brushing. This plaque contains millions of bacteria which produce acids that both destroy tooth enamel and irritate the gums, making them very sore.
Periodontal disease is a progressive condition, which means that it will get worse without treatment. The earlier that the disease is detected and treated, the better it will be for your dog.
Also known as gingivitis, the symptoms of the earliest stage of periodontal disease are very subtle and include:
Gums that bleed when your pet eats something hard, uses chew toys, or when you brush their teeth
At this stage, regular professional cleaning with your vet could be sufficient to get their gum disease under control and prevent any long-term issues.
As it progresses, the symptoms of periodontal disease can get worse too. In addition to those listed above, your dog may also start to exhibit receding gums. This is where the gums pull away from the teeth, leaving a gap between the two. Food and bacteria can get trapped in these gaps, enabling infection to develop. It also puts the tooth root at risk of decay, which could lead to tooth loss.
It's still possible to get periodontal disease under control at this stage with the right treatment from your veterinarian.
At this stage of the condition, your dog will have started to lose some of the teeth’s supporting structures, with deep pockets between the gums and teeth and bone loss present on x-rays. It may be necessary to extract any loose teeth and advanced treatment will be needed to try and preserve your dog’s dental health.
At the final stage of periodontal disease, tooth loss is unavoidable, infections are common and very painful, and bacteria and infection will have moved into the bloodstream and be traveling to other parts of your pet’s body, putting them at risk of other health conditions. Studies show that animals (and people) with advanced periodontal disease are much more likely to suffer from conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, kidney and liver problems, and stroke.
While there is obviously no guarantee how long any animal will live, what we do know is that excellent oral health could help reduce their risk of developing many health issues – some of which do have the ability to impact on their lifespan. Some studies suggest that severe periodontal disease could reduce your pet’s life by up to two years.
In short, it certainly can’t hurt to brush their teeth as often as possible, and it will definitely help them to live healthier and more comfortable lives.
For more information, call Vista Hills Animal Hospital at (915) 592-5867 to reach our office in El Paso, Texas.