Dogs are affected by teeth and gum problems from early ages…..often by the age of 3….and the solution is usually tooth extraction. A gum disease may also cause tooth loss, and many dogs end up having few or no teeth before they reach their senior years of life, which can dramatically affect the dog’s quality of life. In recent years, medical advances have been phenomenal and new technology has provided the ability to have implants for pets. However, just because we have the technology, many vets conclude that the real risks and expense of dental implants for pets outweigh their usefulness and should not be considered a routine choice in pets.

A better option to false teeth or implants for our dogs is taking care of their teeth to prevent a whole range of problems . Dirty teeth and bad breath aren’t just unattractive …periodontal disease impacts a dog’s overall health . Plaque and tartar buildup on teeth can lead to irreversible gum disease, and according to The Journal of Veterinary Dentistry, the majority of dogs over the age of three have periodontal disease, and advanced periodontal disease often results in bacteria in the heart, kidney, and liver. Bacteria in the mouth can get into the bloodstream, traveling throughout the body to create life-threatening infection.

If your pet has a sore mouth, she can’t tell you about it, and it is the nature of dogs to hide pain, so your dog might really be hurting from dental disease while you remain totally unaware that there is something more serious than dirty teeth and bad breath. Keeping plaque and tarter at bay to ward off oral disease is just the tip of the iceberg; your dog’s kidney, liver, heart and overall immune system are affected by the condition of the teeth and gums. The best way to remove tarter (calculus), is with a professional cleaning by a veterinarian, but nothing succeeds better to remove plaque, the sticky, colorless film that forms on the teeth, than brushing.

Brush your dog’s teeth? You gotta be kidding, right? NOPE. Documentation has shown that brushing is the best way to insure your dog’s dental health. Most dogs can be acclimated to teeth brushing if you just take it slowly. Start by just lifting your dog’s lip and rubbing your finger along the gum line. Do this daily for a few days; then take a warm washcloth, or piece of terry cloth and rub that over the teeth for a few days. There are soft-bristled toothbrushes, or finger brushes made especially for dogs, but I have found that most dogs are more receptive to just a wash cloth. Squeeze a small amount of DOG toothpaste (formulated especially for dogs) on the cloth. Do not try to hold the dog’s mouth open; just slide the wash cloth (or brush) under the lips and along the teeth, toward the molars. Don’t give up if the first few sessions don’t go well, and always offer a reward when the process is successfully completed. ..Patience and persistence! Make a commitment to daily brush or rub your dog’s teeth and gums, feed her a healthy diet, offer raw carrots and chew toys designed for dental health, and have regular professional checkups. By maintaining your dog’s oral health, he won’t need false teeth, and his life will be prolonged by lowering the complications of major systemic diseases caused by periodontal disease, crucial to his overall health. A happy dog needs healthy teeth and gums, not false teeth!