While it's possible to fix an overbite and other canine orthodontic issues, there are no doggie dentures (yet!) to replace a senior dog’s aging teeth. So good dental hygiene is key to maintaining healthy teeth and gums throughout a dog’s life.
As with people, dental issues such as cavities and gingivitis are very painful. And, according to the American Veterinary Dental College (www.avdc.org) if not treated, the effects of an oral cavity can go beyond damaging the gum tissue and bone around the teeth to damaging the nasal passages causing nasal discharge, possibly even fracturing the jaw as a result of a weakening of the jaw bone, and, can ultimately cause a bone infection called osteomyelititis.
And as further, and scarier, proof of how serious dental health is: a build up of bacteria in the mouth means that these germs are ultimately ingested and can potentially cause some serious medical issues such as heart, liver, and kidney disease!
So, here's what you can do!
The first sign that something is amiss in your pet’s mouth is bad breath. Other signs to look for include red and swollen gums, abnormal chewing, discolored or loose teeth, excessive drooling and even weight loss.
Call a Professional
February is pet dental month, when many veterinary offices around the country offer discounts on professional teeth-cleaning services. And it’s certainly worth taking advantage of this money-saving opportunity because it’s not always easy to spot cavities or periodontal disease. Non-anesthetic cleaning procedures are illegal in many states unless done by a veterinary professional. So be sure to check.
Brusha, brusha, brusha
A dog’s teeth should be brushed daily, and, if not, then at least once a week. There is a huge selection of doggie toothbrushes and flavored pastes to choose from. There is also a great selection of dental treats that offer a gentle abrasive action as they are chewed, along with a variety of water additives that collectively promote good dental hygiene.