Because dogs can't speak for themselves, we have to look at their teeth and decide if there are any problems because that can cause pain in their mouths. Overall, if we can keep their teeth clean, keep that bacteria from spreading throughout the system, then we can extend their quality and duration of life.
There are a couple of things that you might see. You might see them being more irritable. You might see them having trouble chewing. Food might fall out of their mouth. They might eat more slowly. However, the best way to know is to get regular checkups because we might see things like gingivitis or gum recession, tumors, cysts, or bad breath. You might notice bad breath at home. We need to look at these kinds of things because dogs can't speak to us.
You can do quite a few things. There are a lot of chews and treats that you can use. VOHC.org, the Veterinary Oral Health Council, has many treats that a veterinary dentist approves. You can use toothbrushes or finger brushes. And then you want to use a dog-approved toothpaste so that the dog can swallow those. They don't contain fluoride. You can also use veterinary-approved prescription dog products or dog diets, as they can be helpful too.
The most significant difference between human teeth being cleaned and their teeth being cleaned is general anesthesia. We need to put them under a general anesthetic, and we have a tube in them so that they can not inhale any of the harmful bacteria while we clean their teeth. Other than that, it's pretty similar. We probe around the teeth and look for pockets. We look for broken teeth. We x-ray the teeth, and then we scale them and clean them with an ultrasonic scaler. What some people don't know is that we polish the dog's teeth. We polish the teeth because when we do that scaling, we can cause minor defects in the teeth, and then the polish keeps those from getting bacteria to stick to them.
If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (630) 844-0100, you can email us, or you can reach out on Facebook. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.