Prepare for unexpected vet bills
Some dogs will live their whole life with white, healthy teeth. However, many others are not so lucky and require differing degrees of dental care in order to combat and prevent problems like tooth decay and gum disease. Brushing on a regular schedule will do much to promote good dental health, but a professional cleaning by a veterinarian is the most effective way to remove plaque and tartar and check oral health. A regular dental cleaning and exam is the best way help prevent prevent tooth decay and gum disease that can cause your dog pain and may result in tooth loss.
In a clinical setting, a vet may will perform a more in-depth cleaning of the dog’s teeth than a simple brushing like you might do at home. In order to do this, they will place the dog under general anesthetic due to the need to clean under the gum line – a procedure that can be extremely uncomfortable. Depending on the level of plaque buildup, the dentist may use powered dental tools, much like those used by a dentist, to clean and polish the teeth. They will then use a suction device to remove debris from the mouth. By removing heavy plaque buildup from around the teeth and below the gum line, a vet can prevent future decay and mouth infections.
The effects of cleaning the teeth and gums of a dog may not be immediately apparent, but will become clear over time and with repeated cleanings. After any built-up plaque has been removed, a good schedule of brushing should prevent it from returning. Whilst there are passive methods of maintaining healthy teeth and gums (i.e. food sticks designed to grind down plaque), these can be rather hard on the teeth and will not be as comprehensive as manually cleaning the mouth.
Dogs will typically return to normal activity after recovering from anesthesia. However, dogs suffering from a serious gum infection may display an unwillingness to eat or otherwise use their mouths. In this instance, your vet will most likely be pursuing additional treatment methods such as antibiotics to fight infection and pain medication to relieve any discomfort felt by the animal. Due to the obvious symptoms of harmful bacteria and tooth decay (smell and discoloration), cleaning should yield visible results fairly quickly, which can be maintained and improved upon with a proper brushing regimen.
A professional dental cleaning for dogs can cost several hundred dollars, with prices for younger dogs starting at about $200 and older dogs running as high as $800. The price of a dental cleaning may be influenced by the size of the dog, the condition of his teeth, and pre and post-operative requirements, such as lab work, anesthesia, prescription medications, etc.
Before booking a professional cleaning, owners should be aware of the dangers associated with older dogs being placed under general anesthetic. Whilst the risk is minimal (and arguably necessary in order to prevent the need for a tooth extraction in future), it can be an important consideration for some people. Before starting a regular cleaning routine, there are several things that dog owners should bear in mind. The first thing is the amount of cleaning that is necessary - whilst dogs that are prone to bad oral hygiene should most likely be cleaned every day, animals that are in good health should undergo a lighter regimen with brushing sessions every three days or so. This prevents killing off healthy bacteria present in the mouth and also avoids irritating the gums with overly frequent brushing. Similarly, owners should also take care not to brush inflamed or infected tissues, as this can exacerbate any problems and cause undue pain to the dog. Instead, a vet should be consulted to determine the best way to move forward.
The best way for owners to dodge gum disease and tooth decay in their pets is to familiarize themselves with their pet's mouth. Regular inspections will allow owners to both learn what the normal state of their dog's mouth looks like and to notice a problem before it develops into something more serious. Additionally, diet plays a large role in the dental health of all animals, so making sure to only feed your dog appropriate, nutritional foods will make a big difference when it comes to avoiding mouth problems. Regular brushing will also yield noticeable benefits.
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