A dog smiles at the camera revealing a healthy mouth.

You know you need to brush your teeth twice a day, floss regularly, and visit the dentist every six months. But what about your four-legged friend? 

Dental care is just as important for your dog’s health and longevity. Neglecting your dog’s teeth can lead to pain, infection, and even tooth loss. In fact, dental problems are one of the most common issues veterinarians see in dogs. 

Your dog depends on you to keep their teeth and gums clean and healthy. The good news is with some simple steps, you can establish a strong at-home dental care routine, spot problems early, and keep your dog’s smile bright.

So read on to learn why dental care should be a top priority and how you can keep your dog’s teeth pearly white and their tail wagging.

How to Maintain Dog Dental Health

Want to keep your dog’s pearly whites in tip-top shape? You’ll need to make dental care a priority.

Brush your dog’s teeth regularly with certified dog toothpaste and a toothbrush to remove tartar buildup and bacteria.

  • Aim for 3 – 4 times a week, but even once a week can help. Start slowly, and get your dog used to it. Make it a positive experience with praise, treats, and play.
  • Look for signs like bad breath, tooth pain, loose teeth, or bleeding gums. These can indicate dental disease and require a vet visit.
  • Take your dog in for regular dental checkups, usually once a year.

The Importance of Dog Oral Health

Your dog’s teeth are just as important as their heart, lungs, or any other part of their body. Neglecting dental care can lead to serious problems down the road.

Dental care is a vital part of keeping your dog healthy. Make sure to brush their teeth as required, schedule regular dental checkups with your vet, and call them right away if you notice any signs of dental disease.

Neglecting your dog’s teeth can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and other dog oral health issues. Bacteria from dental infections can even spread to the heart, liver, and kidneys if left untreated.

As a general rule of thumb, most dogs need an annual dental exam. Some dogs, especially smaller breeds, may need checkups every 6-8 months. 

During the exam, the vet will check for any signs of gum disease or other issues, clean your dog’s teeth to remove built-up tartar, and often take dental X-rays to check for any problems below the gumline.

Dental X-rays allow the vet to see below the surface and identify any abscesses, fractures, or other issues with the tooth root or jawbone.

No one wants their pup to suffer — or have their life cut short by problems like infections! By brushing their teeth, watching for warning signs, and scheduling regular dental checkups, you’ll be giving your dog the gift of good health and many more years by your side.

Remember: your dog’s smile — and longevity — depend on it!

Can Dog Dental Disease Lead to Other Health Issues?

Yes. In dogs, as in people, infections in dogs can spread, and this is just as true when it comes to oral health.

  • Bad breath is usually the first sign that something isn’t right in your dog’s mouth. Persistent bad breath can indicate infection, gum disease, or other issues that require vet attention.
  • Plaque and tartar buildup can lead to inflammation of the gums, also known as gingivitis. Left untreated, gingivitis can become a full-blown periodontal disease that destroys gum and bone tissue. This painful condition can lead to tooth loss and systemic health issues if not addressed.
  • Broken or damaged teeth need to be extracted or repaired, as sharp edges can cut your dog’s mouth, and these sores can become infected.
  • Oral tumors, while rare, can develop without obvious symptoms. Regular dental exams allow your vet to detect any abnormal growths early on.
  • Professional dental cleanings (under anesthesia) are the only way to properly clean a dog’s teeth. Your vet will scrape off tartar, clean and polish the teeth, and check for any dog oral health issues during the procedure.

What Should I Look For in a Veterinary Dentist?

When choosing a vet for your dog’s dental care, look for a veterinarian with specific experience and expertise in veterinary dentistry. Some things to consider:

  • Does the vet have any advanced certifications or training in dentistry? Things like Fellow of the Academy of Veterinary Dentistry (FAVD) show a high level of skill and knowledge.
  • How many dental procedures do they perform each week or month? A vet that does several cleanings and extractions each week will have more experience than one that only does a few each month.
  • Do they take digital dental X-rays and have dental surgical equipment like ultrasonic scalers? This indicates they take dental care seriously and invest in providing high-quality treatment.
  • Are they a member of professional veterinary dentistry organizations? Belonging to groups like the American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) shows a commitment to staying up-to-date with advancements in the field.

Once you find a veterinary dentist you’re interested in working with, ask if you can speak to some of their previous dental clients. Reviews from other pet owners are the best way to home in on the right professional and help determine the quality of care your dog will receive.

How to Improve Your Dog’s Dental Health at Home

Additionally, on top of annual (or biannual) vet checkups, make sure to also brush your dog’s teeth at home several times a week. 

How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth 

You should aim to brush your dog’s teeth at least 2 – 3 times a week to remove tartar buildup and keep their gums healthy. Use a soft dog toothbrush and pet toothpaste that is safe for dogs — never human toothpaste. 

Gently brush in circular motions, lifting the lips to reach the back teeth and the gumline, where most dental issues start.

At first, just let your dog lick a little bit of the toothpaste while you rub their gums with your finger. Over time, they’ll get used to the feeling of having their teeth brushed.

  • Start brushing at a young age so your dog grows up accustomed to it. Older dogs may need more positive reinforcement and patience.
  • Offer praise, belly rubs and treats to help make brushing rewarding and positive.
  • Take it slow, and keep brushing sessions short, building up over time as your dog gets more comfortable.

Learning how to improve your dog’s oral health is an important first step for every owner, and it begins with learning how to brush — and check — your dog’s teeth at home. 

How to Check Your Dog’s Teeth At Home 

In between brushings, lift your dog’s lips, and examine their gums and teeth at least once a week. Look for any redness, swelling, broken teeth or tartar buildup.

Their gums should be pink — not white or red. Bad breath can also be a sign of infection or decay. 

If you notice any issues, schedule a vet checkup right away. It’s best to detect dental problems early before they become painful for your dog.

Why Dental Care Can Add Years to Your Dog’s Life

Keeping your dog’s teeth and gums in good shape can help them live a longer, happier life. 

Dental disease is one of the most common health issues for dogs, but it’s often preventable with regular home care and checkups. Neglecting your dog’s dental health can lead to painful infections, tooth loss, and other issues that significantly reduce their quality of life and lifespan.

To recap our most important tips from this article, make sure to always: 

  • Brush your dog’s teeth regularly with vet-approved dog toothpaste and a toothbrush to remove plaque and tartar buildup. Start brushing as early as possible to get them accustomed to it.
  • Check your dog’s teeth and gums weekly for any signs of redness, swelling, loose teeth, or bad breath. These symptoms can indicate infection or disease and may signal that your dog needs a full vet examination.
  • Take your dog for regular dental checkups, usually once a year. The vet will do a thorough cleaning to remove any plaque or tartar, check for any oral health issues, and may take x-rays to check your pup’s tooth roots and jaw.
  • Extractions or other procedures may be recommended to treat advanced dental disease or oral health problems found during the dental exam. It’s best to address any issues early before they become severe.

Providing good dental care for your dog at home and with regular vet checkups, cleanings, and treatment can help reduce pain, prevent disease, and allow your faithful companion to live a longer, higher-quality life by your side.

Their dental health is worth the investment of your time, effort, and resources.

Improve Responsiveness to Brushing and Care With Training at Greenlin Pet Resorts 

Some dogs are uncomfortable with teeth brushing, gum exams, and other activities that are essential to their chompers’ health.

Greenlin can help curb these nervous behaviors through personalized training, helping your dog feel more confident and relaxed in a multitude of situations while making it easier for everyone else to do things like groom them or check their mouth for issues.

At Greenlin Pet Resorts, you can rest assured that your dog will be in the best hands possible. The Greenlin team offers everything from daily doggy daycare to full dog boarding or fun play and train days!

So reach out to the team at one of our six locations in Central Pennsylvania today to help your dog live their best life and discover new ways to help them thrive.