How often should I brush my dog's teeth?

Ideally, you should brush your dog's teeth every day. If you can get into this habit, it will greatly benefit your dog's dental health. However, if you can only manage to brush them at least a couple of times a week, you're still going to help your dog quite a lot.

Dr. Ingrid Rhinehart
Briar Patch Veterinary Hospital

Are there any tips you can give me to help make brushing my dog's teeth easier?

First, find a toothpaste that your dog likes the flavor of. If they don't like the flavor, they won't be receptive to having their teeth brushed. Dog toothpaste comes in many different flavors. Secondly, choose a toothbrush that won't scare your dog away during the procedure. Finger toothbrushes, which go over the end of your finger, can be more comfortable for your dog than a traditional toothbrush with bristles on the end.

Can I use human toothpaste for my dog?

No, you should not use human toothpaste on your dog. Human toothpaste is not designed to be swallowed, while dog toothpaste is specifically formulated to be safe for swallowing. It also has extra enzymes that help break down tartar in your dog's mouth even after you finish brushing.

Do I still need to brush my dog's teeth if I give them something like denta sticks or greenies?

While denta sticks or greenies can be helpful for some dogs, they are not a substitute for brushing. Regular brushing is still necessary for maintaining your dog's dental health.

Can dogs get cavities?

Dogs can indeed get cavities, but they are a bit different from human cavities. Dogs can have fractures and cracks in their teeth or erosions in their enamel, which are similar to cavities in people. So, the answer is yes, but the problems dogs experience are slightly different from human cavities.

Instead of brushing my dog's teeth, are there toys I can give them

There are some toys that can be helpful in dental care by decreasing the amount of material that sticks to your dog's teeth. However, these toys are not a substitute for brushing. If your dog refuses to let you brush their teeth, then using these dental care toys can be a helpful alternative.

Dog Dental - FAQs

Dr. Ingrid Rhinehart
Briar Patch Veterinary Hospital

What's the first thing a vet looks for during a dental exam for a dog?

During a dental exam, a veterinarian looks for several things such as tartar buildup on the teeth, gingivitis (redness or bleeding in the gums), visible tooth fractures, masses in the mouth, and any unusual odors. All these factors are assessed simultaneously to determine the overall oral health of the dog.

What does a healthy dog mouth look like?

A healthy dog mouth has clean white teeth, calm pink gums without cuts or irritated areas, and relatively mild breath. Veterinarians also ensure that the dog has the normal number of teeth and that there are no extra teeth present.

What kind of dental and oral problems can my dog have?

In puppies, it is important to monitor whether they are losing their baby teeth properly and if adult teeth are growing in correctly. For older dogs, common dental problems include fractures, tartar buildup, gingivitis, and periodontal disease, which can be quite serious for some dogs.

Will my dog need x-rays?

If your dog is having a dental procedure, x-rays are necessary. Veterinarians use x-rays during every dental procedure to count the teeth, examine the crowns (visible part of the tooth), and assess the roots and any hidden issues beneath the gums. X-rays often reveal problems that wouldn't be apparent without them.

Is this all done as one appointment?

Typically, an exam appointment is scheduled first, either during a preventive care appointment or a separate appointment if a problem is noticed. After the initial assessment, the veterinarian makes a plan, ensures anesthesia is safe, and then schedules the dental procedure for a different day.

Can my dog need extractions during the dental procedure?

Yes, your dog may need extractions during the dental procedure if the veterinarian finds problematic or painful teeth. Extractions are only performed when the teeth are causing more pain and problems for the dog than if they were removed. Veterinarians do not prefer extractions, but they are often necessary for treating painful dental issues.

Dog Dental - FAQs 2

Dr. Ingrid Rhinehart
Briar Patch Veterinary Hospital

Why does my dog need anesthesia for a teeth cleaning?

Anesthesia is necessary for a thorough dental cleaning in dogs because it allows veterinarians to perform various procedures that would be impossible with an awake dog. These include probing and checking every tooth, taking dental x-rays, and ensuring that the water used during cleaning does not get swallowed or inhaled inappropriately. Anesthesia keeps your dog comfortable and safe throughout the procedure.

How is anesthesia administered to my dog? Are they monitored while it's being given?

Yes, dogs are closely monitored during anesthesia. First, they are given sedation medications, followed by an induction into anesthesia. An endotracheal tube is placed to protect the airway, and anesthesia is delivered through inhaled gas. A dedicated technician continuously monitors your dog's vital signs, including temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygenation rate, and EKG, throughout the procedure.

I've heard some vets offer anesthesia-free dental procedures. Is this true?

While anesthesia-free dental procedures do exist, they are generally discouraged because they can be stressful and potentially harmful to your pet. These procedures may involve oral sedation or no sedation at all, and your pet is physically restrained while their teeth are scraped. Anesthesia-free procedures do not allow for a thorough examination of the teeth or detection of issues beneath the gum line, so they do not effectively address most dental problems in pets.

Why are antibiotics and pain medications sometimes prescribed for dog dental procedures?

Pain medications are prescribed to ensure your dog's comfort following any extractions or surgical procedures in the mouth. Antibiotics are less commonly prescribed, but they may be necessary if there is significant infection present or if an extensive surgical procedure increases the risk of bacteria causing problems. Antibiotics help prevent complications in these cases.

How do I know if my dog will have a reaction to anesthesia?

It's impossible to know for certain if your dog will have a reaction to anesthesia until it is administered. However, veterinarians take several precautions to minimize this risk. Before anesthetizing your dog, they will perform a full lab workup, a pre-surgical EKG, and a physical examination to identify any potential concerns. If any issues are found, they will be addressed before proceeding with anesthesia.

Is it possible that my dog could be too old for dental cleaning?

No, age is not a limiting factor for dental cleanings in dogs. In fact, older dogs often need dental care the most. Veterinarians take all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of older pets during anesthesia, and treating dental issues in older dogs can prevent prolonged pain and infection. If you have concerns about your pet's age and dental care, consult with your veterinarian to discuss your pet's specific needs and health status.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (607) 272-2828, or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook and Instagram