Dental Care for Old Dogs!

When was the last time your loveable canine gave you a big wet kiss? If they have bad dog breath, you may not be the only one who is suffering. But your dog's problem extends beyond the odor. Canine halitosis (dog breath) can be a sign of periodontal disease or a mouth infection.

The symptoms of periodontal disease are not limited to bad dog breath but also includes excessive tartar build up, tooth discoloration and gum disease. Most dogs will suffer from some degree of periodontal disease but with proper dental care and food, the degree of the affliction can be limited.

Periodontal disease can lead to increased risk of heart, liver and kidney disease. There are many factors that influence the development of periodontal disease: age, diet, shape of teeth, occlusion, bacterial flora, immune status, general health, genetic predisposition, lack of oral hygiene, size and shape of dental arches, breed and chewing habits or motion.

Of these, lack of oral hygiene is probably the most significant reason for the development of periodontal disease in companion animals.

Signs of Periodontal Disease

  • swelling and inflammation of the gums
  • halitosis (bad dog breath)
  • plaque and calculus deposition
  • gum tissue that bleeds with gentle probing
  • gum tissue recession (exposed tooth roots)
  • mouth ulcers
  • bone loss
  • mobile teeth, or missing teeth.
  • Daily removal of plaque is the key to an effective oral hygiene program. Unless your pet's teeth are brushed daily, plaque, which is an accumulation of bacteria, will build up at the gum line.

    Eventually, calculus forms, further irritating the gums, causing infection that progress to destroy the attachment around your pet's teeth. In addition to creating loose teeth, infection under the gum line can spread to the liver, kidneys, and heart.

    Dental Care Options

    • Pet Toothbrush - Select a soft toothbrush designed especially for dogs, sized properly for your pet. Consider a finger tooth brush if your dog proves to be brush-fussy.

    • Dog-formulated toothpastes - Don't use mint-flavored human toothpaste. It's foaming action and ingredients are hard on your dog's stomach. Opt for special dog-friendly pastes like tuna or poultry flavor instead.

    • Dental Wipes and Dental Sponges - Easy-to-apply, chlorhexidrine solution kills bacteria that lead to plaque and gum disease

    • Tooth Scaler - Use on dog's teeth to effectively scrape off tartar, plaque, and bacteria-harboring calculus

    • Dental Breath Fresheners

    • Dental Care System - contains all the essentials you'll need to establish an at-home mouth-care routine.

    • Dental diets - a veterinary study shows they are successful in reducing plaque..

    Dog Teeth Cleaning

    Just like it does for people, tooth brushing removes plaque on the tooth and below the gum line.

    • First, obtain a pet toothpaste. Human toothpaste is not acceptable for pet use, because it is not designed to be swallowed and may make your pet sick. Pet toothpaste, on the other hand, is flavored for pets (tuna, poultry, etc) and can be safely ingested.

    • You will also need a toothbrush. There are many pet-designed toothbrushes for different sized animals. Soft children's toothbrushes will also work. Once you have brush and paste, you are ready to begin.

    Gradually introduce your pet to brushing. For several days, simply feed a small amount of the toothpaste to your pet on your finger or the brush.

    This will get them used to the taste. Next, apply a small amount of paste to the brush and brush only one or two teeth.

    Repeat this for a few days, and then gradually build by adding a few teeth every few days until you are brushing the entire mouth.

    Animals generally buildup most of their tartar on the outer surfaces of their teeth, so this is the area to focus on most for brushing.

    Brushing should ideally be done daily for maximum benefit. Brushing less than 3-4 times weekly has little benefit.

    Dental Care Terms

    An astounding 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by age three, according to the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS). The most common dental problem among pets is periodontal disease, a painful condition that animals often suffer in silence.

    • Gingivitis - occurs when soft plaque hardens into rough, irritating tartar. Tartar build-up on your pet's teeth can cause damage to the teeth and gums. If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to an infection called periodontal disease. This disease can cause the loss of teeth and bone recession in the mouth.

    • Plaque - Dogs rarely get cavities, but are much more prone to gum disease and excess tartar build-up on the teeth. Food particles and bacteria collect along the gum line forming plaque.

    • Tartar - If plaque is not removed, minerals in the saliva combine with the plaque and form tartar (or calculus) which adheres strongly to the teeth. Plaque starts to mineralize 3-5 days after it forms. The tartar is irritating to the gums and causes an inflammation called gingivitis. This can be seen as reddening of the gums adjacent to the teeth. It also causes bad dog breath.

    • Periodontal Disease - If the tartar is not removed, it builds up under the gums. It separates the gums from the teeth to form "pockets" and encourages even more bacterial growth. At this point the damage is irreversible, and called "periodontal" disease. It can be very painful and can lead to loose teeth, abscesses, and bone loss or infection. Periodontal disease is the inflammation and destruction of the tissues which surround and support the tooth.