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Dog teeth cleaning: How to support your dog’s dental health

dog teeth cleaning

Maintaining good dental health is a very important part of your pet’s overall health. Basic dog teeth cleaning practices can help prevent a variety of dental problems such as tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath. These problems can lead to pain and discomfort for the dog, and in severe cases, can result in tooth loss or infections that can spread to other parts of the body. So, how can you support your dog’s dental health?  

Table of contents 

Importance of good dental hygiene for dogs 

Dog dental health is an important part of a dog’s overall wellbeing. Poor dental hygiene can lead to a range of oral and systemic diseases, including gum disease, tooth decay, and even tooth loss. This can cause pain and discomfort for the dog, as well as make it difficult to eat and digest food. Additionally, bacteria from poor dental health can enter the bloodstream, leading to more serious conditions like heart disease or kidney failure. 

It is important for pet owners to ensure that their dogs have good oral hygiene habits in order to prevent these health problems from developing. Avoiding regular dental care for dogs and cats can lead to many of the same oral health problems as humans experience, including: 

  • Broken teeth and roots 
  • Periodontal disease 
  • Abscesses or infected teeth 
  • Cysts or tumors in the mouth 
  • Malocclusion, or misalignment of the teeth and bite 
  • Broken or fractured jaw 
  • Palate defects such as cleft palate 

What is periodontal disease? 

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a serious inflammatory condition in dogs that affects the gums, teeth, and other structures of the mouth. It is the most commonly diagnosed problem in small animal veterinary medicine, with most dogs having some form of the disease by the time they turn 3 years old. 

Periodontal disease is caused by the buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth. The bacteria in dental plaque irritate the gum tissue if plaque is allowed to accumulate, which often leads to infection in the bone surrounding the teeth. This can cause pain and discomfort for your pet, so it’s important to be aware of its signs and symptoms so you can take action as soon as possible. 

Periodontal disease doesn’t just affect your pet’s mouth. Unchecked periodontal disease has numerous dire consequences both locally and systemically. Bacteria surrounding the roots gain access to the blood stream, leading to damage to a dog’s heart, kidneys, and liver. 

Signs of poor oral health in dogs 

It is important to be able to identify the indicators that your pet is suffering from periodontal disease, which include: 

  • Bad breath 
  • Broken or loose teeth 
  • Teeth that are discolored or covered in tartar 
  • Abnormal chewing, drooling, or dropping food from their mouth 
  • Reduced appetite or refusal to eat 
  • Signs of blood in a pet’s water bowl or on chew toys 
  • Pain in or around the mouth 
  • Swelling in the areas surrounding the mouth 

Some pets become irritable when they have dental problems, and any changes in your pet’s behavior should prompt a visit to your veterinarian. Always be careful when evaluating your pet’s mouth, because an animal in pain may bite. 

Possible causes of poor dental health in dogs 

Poor dental health and periodontal disease can be caused by a lack of oral hygiene, genetics, age, breed, and diet. Additionally, certain medical conditions such as diabetes or autoimmune diseases can increase your dog’s risk for dental issues. 

How to keep your dog’s teeth clean 

Regularly brushing your dog’s teeth is the single most effective thing you can do to keep their teeth healthy between dental cleanings, and may reduce the frequency or even eliminate the need for periodic dental cleaning by your veterinarian. Daily brushing is best, but brushing several times a week can also be effective. 

Additionally, a healthy diet, annual cleanings and regular veterinarian check-ups, and dental chews and toys will help maintain the health of your dog’s teeth. Some dog foods, often available with a prescription from your veterinarian, are specially formulated to support dental health. The act of chewing benefits your dog’s oral health, as gnawing scrapes plaque off your dog’s teeth. Treats and chews come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and flavors so you are sure to find something your dog loves. Talk with your veterinarian about any dental products, treats, or dental-specific diets you’re considering for your pet, or ask your veterinarian for their recommendation. 

How often should you brush your dog’s teeth? 

When it comes to our dogs’ dental health, just like our own, consistency is key. Pet owners should brush their dog’s teeth at least 2 to 3 times a week, although daily brushing is ideal. The better you are at keeping a regular routine, the easier it will be on your dog and the more likely they will be to respond positively to brushing. 

How to brush a dog’s teeth 

With proper training and preparation, teeth brushing can be a quick and easy daily task for you and your dog to do at home. Here are some tips for how to brush a dog’s teeth: 

  • Get comfortable: Pick a quiet area free of distractions and get in a position that is comfortable for both you and the dog. Depending on your individual dog, they may like being held in your lap or wrapped in a towel or blanket to keep them calm. 
  • Start slowly: Introduce your dog to the idea of having their teeth brushed by first letting them smell and lick the toothbrush and toothpaste. Start practicing the act of brushing by first using your finger, possibly wrapped in medical gauze for extra protection. Gradually switch to a toothbrush and slowly increase the amount of time you spend brushing their teeth each day. 
  • Pay attention to body language: Closely monitor any changes in your dog’s reactions or behavior when you’re trying to prepare them for tooth brushing. If your dog suddenly feels uncomfortable with your fingers in their mouth and tenses up or shows other signs of stress, remove your hands and back away. Never shove your hands in a dog’s mouth, especially if they appear stressed or fearful. 
  • Use a soft-bristled brush: You can use a toothbrush designed for dogs, kids, or a brush that fits on your fingertip. The brush should be small enough to fit into your dog’s mouth and have soft bristles to avoid hurting their gums. 
  • Use dog-specific toothpaste: Do not use human toothpaste on dogs, as human toothpaste often contains xylitol, which is a toxic substance to dogs. Instead, use toothpaste that is specifically formulated for dogs. There are lots of options with dog-friendly flavors like peanut butter and chicken.  
  • Brush at an angle in circular motions: Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle to the gum line and brush in small circular motions, focusing on the outer surfaces of the teeth. Because the side of the tooth that touches the cheek contains the most tartar, concentrate there. 
  • Be gentle: Always be gentle when brushing your dog’s teeth, and never force them to open their mouth if they’re not comfortable with it. 
  • Create positive associations: Praise and reward your dog with treats or toys to help make the experience of teeth cleaning positive and even enjoyable. Using positive reinforcement will help your dog associate brushing with pleasant experiences. 

You may consider asking your veterinarian to train you on how to brush your dog’s teeth. It’s also important to mention that it may take time for a dog to get used to having their teeth brushed, so patience and consistency are key. 

Professional dog teeth cleaning 

Just like we should visit the dentist regularly in addition to brushing our teeth at home, your dog should also have professional dental cleanings. Professional cleaning begins with blood work to determine if your dog is healthy enough to undergo anesthesia. If they are, your veterinarian will administer anesthesia and begin a comprehensive cleaning. This includes:  

  • A complete oral exam and x-rays to identify problems under the gum line  
  • A full cleaning under the gum line to prevent periodontal disease  
  • Professional scaling to remove plaque and tartar build-up on the crown  
  • Polishing the teeth to prevent plaque and bacteria 

How can ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA help stressed dogs? 

Teeth cleaning is not usually a comfortable experience for pets. Many different aspects of the process, particularly early on, can cause dogs stress. This stress may be even worse during professional cleaning for dogs who do not like to visit the veterinarian. ElleVet’s Calm & Comfort high-potency CBD + CBDA chews provide maximum support for dogs who experience acute stress in situations like teeth cleaning and vet visits. By calming without sedating, CBD + CBDA helps dogs relax and safely handle particularly stressful situations.   

CBG for dental health 

While CBD + CBDA can help dogs with both chronic and acute stress, another cannabinoid, cannabigerol (CBG), has anti-bacterial properties that can be very beneficial in supporting dogs’ dental health. CBG can address the bacteria in dogs’ mouths that get stuck between teeth and under gums and cause serious infections. 

Bottom line 

Dental health is an essential component of your dog’s overall health and wellbeing, as dental problems can cause, or be caused by, other health problems. To maintain good dental health, it’s important to brush a dog’s teeth regularly, feed them a healthy diet, provide them with dental chews and toys, and schedule regular check-ups with a veterinarian. Pet parents should make a routine of cleaning their dog’s teeth and monitor for early signs of periodontal disease.