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At Forest Vets in Essex, we advise that your dog’s dental hygiene is just as important as any other routine and preventative treatment. Like humans, dogs can develop a build-up of plaque and tartar which leads to periodontal disease and irreversible loss of teeth; brushing your dog's teeth once or twice a day is the best option for good oral hygiene and prevention of periodontal disease. We will examine your dog's teeth at their routine annual checkups and make a recommendation if any treatment is necessary. There may be veterinary dental diets and other products such as chews and/or oral gels and rinses which can help where brushing is not enough (or if your dog is not amenable to brushing).

Here at Forest Vets in Essex, our team would be happy to assist you with answering any questions you may have, as well as advising you on the recommended products or diets for your dog.

Please contact Forest Vets to book a dental check appointment for your dog.

Symptoms of dental disease in dogs

Dogs can be very good at hiding signs of oral pain and dental disease. Some dogs with severe dental disease, including broken teeth, root exposure, severe gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), and tooth root infections, will continue to eat and show only subtle signs that something is wrong.

While plaque can be removed by brushing, once there is a buildup of tartar, then this cannot be removed by teeth brushing alone; likewise, it is very difficult to clean the space underneath the gumline and into pockets between the teeth in our pets. The best action, if there are early signs of periodontal disease, is for your dog to have a Stage One dental procedure to de-scale and clean the teeth, perform a complete oral and dental examination, take a complete set of dental radiographs, and chart any abnormalities we detect. This will then be followed by tooth brushing to prevent the buildup from occurring again and reduce the chances of periodontal disease from progressing. However, left unchecked, periodontal disease can result in a dog needing to have multiple teeth extracted and sometimes more serious complications.

A general anaesthesia is required for all dental procedures, however, having several, short, Stage One dental procedures throughout our pet's lifetime can prevent the need for much longer anaesthetics and costly large-scale extractions especially when combined with ongoing at-home dental hygiene. 

What are the signs of dental disease in dogs?

  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Visible tartar build-up on teeth
  • Red or inflamed gums (gingivitis)
  • Discoloured teeth
  • Drooling
  • Loose teeth
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Slowness or reluctance to eat
  • Chewing on one side of the mouth
  • Dropping food from the mouth when eating
  • Swelling around the mouth (from potential tooth root abscesses)

If you detect any of the above signs, please contact Forest Vets to book an appointment for a vet to examine your dog as soon as possible.

How can dental disease in dogs be prevented?

The best way to maintain healthy teeth is to brush your dog’s teeth daily. This is easiest to start when your dog is younger but can be introduced at any age. The Forest Vets' team would be happy to help with advice on introducing this to your dog.

It can also be beneficial to have a scale and polish performed regularly to clean the teeth thoroughly. This is similar to the treatment we would receive from a dental hygienist. These are done under a short general anaesthetic as dogs won’t sit in one position for a prolonged period and we must ensure their safety and the team’s safety when in the vicinity of sharp teeth!

Why does non-traumatic dental disease occur in dogs?

Food, saliva, and oral bacteria combine to form a sticky substance called plaque on the tooth. Plaque is soft and can be removed by brushing or using alternative dental products. If not removed, the plaque will harden forming tartar, which is difficult to remove without dentistry intervention.

Additionally, plaque will irritate the gums causing inflammation of the gums initially ('gingivitis') and as gingivitis progresses, there is an extension of the inflammation down to the tooth attachment structures ('periodontitis') and the progressive destruction of the tooth attachment structures is called periodontal disease. Gingivitis on its own can be reversible with good oral hygiene but periodontitis and periodontal disease are typically progressive so we want to avoid this if possible. 

Further reading:

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