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Is It Worth Getting Your Dog’s Teeth Cleaned?

Updated Dec 15, 2022

Updated Dec 15, 2022

Home > Pet Insurance > Is It Worth Getting Your Dog’s Teeth Cleaned?

Yes, it’s worth getting your dog’s teeth cleaned at the vet because its dental health is closely linked to its overall physical health and well-being. Not only are periodontal disease, tooth loss, and tooth extractions painful for your pup now, but they can impact its future health. 

Dental disease is prevalent in dogs and is second only to ear infections. Unfortunately, it can lead to many health problems and a lot of pain for your dog. 

Below, we discuss why dental care and dental cleanings are essential for your dog’s happiness and how you can keep your pup’s mouth healthy. 

Why Should I Have My Dog’s Teeth Cleaned?

dog at the vet getting its teeth cleaned
Image Source: Canva

Many pet owners believe that dog dental cleanings are primarily for fresh breath. However, dog dental cleanings are critical to all aspects of your dog’s health. 

Here are a few health problems that poor dental health can contribute to: 

  • Dental disease
  • Difficulty eating
  • Swollen, painful gums 
  • Tooth loss
  • Infection
  • Heart muscle changes
  • Liver and kidney problems

Most pet owners don’t realize that unhealthy teeth and gums can lead to organ damage. Organ damage from poor dental health occurs when bacteria from plaque enter your dog’s bloodstream and spread throughout its body, typically to the heart, liver, and kidneys. 

Organ damage can cause your dog to become sick and develop other health issues, making preventative care important for all aspects of your dog’s health. 

What Happens During a Professional Teeth Cleaning?

Most veterinarians recommend professional teeth cleaning once a year for dogs in addition to an at-home oral care routine. 

During professional teeth cleaning appointments, your veterinarian will examine your dog’s mouth for dental problems, such as bad breath, swelling or pain in the mouth, loose or broken teeth, and plaque or tartar buildup. You should also inform your veterinarian of any symptoms you may have noticed, such as a refusal to eat, bleeding, or abnormal chewing. 

If your pet is healthy enough for anesthesia, the vet will put your dog under and complete a full oral exam of every tooth in your dog’s mouth. Then, they will clean and polish the teeth and under the gum line. Fluoride treatment and dental sealant are typically applied to protect your dog’s teeth and fight plaque. Dental X-rays may be taken to examine any questionable teeth or areas of the mouth. 

If your dog has periodontal disease or requires further dental care, such as tooth extraction, your veterinarian will discuss these options and a treatment plan with you. 

Why Is Anesthesia Necessary?

General anesthesia is necessary during canine dental exams and cleanings to keep your dog relaxed and to allow your veterinarian the accessibility they need to clean and examine all of your dog’s teeth. It also protects your vet and their staff from being bitten, which even a friendly dog may instinctively do to try and defend themselves if your vet reaches into their mouth. 

Certain dogs may not be able to be given anesthetic. In this case, your veterinarian will perform a dental exam as much as they can and suggest alternative dental care to prevent and treat dental issues. 

Are Certain Dogs Predisposed to Dental Disease?

Dental cleanings are especially important for dogs genetically predisposed to dental diseases like gingivitis. 

Many small dog breeds or brachycephalic dog breeds, which are dogs with “smushed-in faces” like pugs or Boston terriers, are more prone to dental disease because of their smaller mouths. Dogs fed exclusively wet food may be more susceptible to dental disease because they miss kibble’s dental benefits. Dry foods, like kibble, help scrape plaque off as dogs eat.

How To Prevent Plaque at Home

brushing a dog’s teeth at home
Image Source: Canva

While professional teeth cleaning by a veterinarian is important for your dog’s health, at-home preventative care is critical to maintaining your dog’s teeth and mouth health. 

Here are our top tips for pet owners: 

  • Buy a dog-safe toothbrush and toothpaste. Like humans, dogs should have their teeth regularly cleaned at home to prevent dental problems like gum disease and tooth loss. A dog-safe toothpaste must be used because human toothpaste contains teeth-cleaning detergents that cannot be swallowed and will harm your dog. You should also avoid baking soda. Dog-safe toothpastes are non-foaming, safe to consume, and come in many appealing flavors, such as beef, poultry, and mint, which helps your dog enjoy the experience more. 
  • Invest in dental chews for your pup. Dental chews and dental treats created to prevent tartar and plaque buildup are a great part of dental maintenance for your dog. 
  • Ask your vet about a plaque-prevention product. These products are directly applied to your pet’s teeth and gums and help prevent plaque buildup. 

Is It Worth Getting Your Dog’s Teeth Cleaned?

Yes, it’s worth getting your dog’s teeth cleaned. Teeth cleaning is integral to pet care for our furry friends as it prevents dental issues and more significant matters, like organ damage. Speak with your veterinarian about what you can do to improve your dog’s oral health and their personalized recommendations for at-home dental care. If you have pet insurance, examine your policy to see if regular dental cleanings or treatments are included. 

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