Why Do Dogs Require Dental Care & How to Brush Your Pets Teeth

You may have heard that a dog’s mouth is a sanitary place. This is true, but only to a certain extent. Ultimately, a dog’s mouth is its primary assistant in almost all essential life functions from feeding and communication to self-assistance and self-defense. To say that dogs often put their mouths in unsanitary situations would be an understatement, and while their bodies are capable of battling off some of the more common pathogens when bacteria remain on their teeth, they can still experience discomfort and pain in their teeth and gums that can affect everything from the dog’s behavior to their eating habits.

If your dog begins to experience oral problems, addressing them can be a costly endeavor. While dogs are not prone to cavities, their teeth can still decay and their gums are sensitive to gingivitis, and other oral ailments. Not only will these cost your pet happiness and comfort, but they will also result in potentially expensive tooth extractions. These can range from more simple ones for $10 per tooth, to molar extraction, a complicated procedure that may cost more than $1,000.

There are a few important things to know about canine dental care which can go a long way in extending the longevity and health of your dog’s teeth.

Brushing Teeth

Yes, brushing a dog’s teeth is vital to sustaining their dental health. It may surprise you, but preventative dental maintenance is not just a human necessity, it applies to our canine companions as well. If you are wondering how to brush your dog’s teeth and when you should start, what follows is some valuable information for you to consider.

First, you need to purchase a canine toothbrush, a double-headed brush with a 45-degree angle slant. It’s best to start engaging in this routine from the time your dog is young so that it becomes a regular occurrence in their lives that they are used to and will not resist when they are older. The best time to approach it is when the dog has had some exercise and expanded a lot of energy, making them more docile and less likely to resist.

If you notice that the brushing is something your dog finds particularly agitating early on, don’t force it. Brush whatever you can, even if it isn’t your dog’s entire mouth. As your dog gets used to the process, he or she will be much more inclined to let you do more of it daily. Scrub the teeth firmly, but be wary of scraping up the gums to keep them from bleeding, making them more prone to infection.

The other essential component of teeth brushing, of course, is toothpaste. Under no circumstances should you use human toothpaste as most brands contain fluoride, a chemical exceptional poisonous to canines if consumed. Toothpaste formulated specifically for dogs can be found at most pet stores.

Bad Breath

As with humans, a dog’s teeth build up plaque as the dog eats. The plaque, if left unattended, degrades the teeth, slowly but surely, often evidencing itself in the form of foul breath from the dog’s mouth. If the dog’s breath is overwhelmingly bad (more than the usually unpleasant scent), it could indicative of decaying teeth or periodontal problems. 

Most pet stores sell mouthwash specifically designed for dogs. This product is consumable, and while you don’t expect to train a dog to rinse and spit, the mouthwash can be added to their water bowls for the dog to imbibe along with their regular daily water consumption.

Food And Toys

Keeping your dog’s teeth healthy does not need to just include brushing and mouthwash. It actually extends to their diet and playtime. For instance, many plastic bones and chew toys are available that are specifically made to support the dog's gums and teeth. You will want to make sure any toy given for this purpose, is not too hard, or the dog’s teeth can incur chipping and other unwanted damage.

Making sure that the dog treats or food you serve your pet contains essential minerals and vitamins that promote stronger teeth can also help reduce any potential dental issues by having the teeth be strong and dependable.

Regular Dental Care

Even the most ardent dog owner, who has a pet that is well trained in having its teeth cleaned and does everything right, should have the dog’s mouth checked out by a vet. Much like humans who take care of their teeth meticulously still see a dentist every 6 months, the vet should be able to check out the dog’s teeth and gum lines and be able to detect any issues or the potential of any that may arise. Smaller dogs could be more prone to dental problems, so it might be prudent to take them in for dental check-ups more often.

Most of the veterinarian appointments include a basic dental examination. If the vet detects any issues or anomalies with the dog’s dental health, they will instruct you on what procedure is required next. If the situation is particularly concerning, it may involve the extraction of teeth.

This circles around to the initial concern of a dog’s dental health. With the dog’s mouth being such a pivotal presence in the dog’s existence, losing teeth, which they rely on for many basic needs can be life-altering. It could affect the dog’s mental and emotional state while they come to grips with their new situation. Of course, these are not common happenings, and while they may be necessary in some cases, the concern can be alleviated greatly if you help your dog’s teeth stay in good health from a young age.