5 Essential Benefits of Dog Dental Care
Caring for our dog’s dental health is an important responsibility as pet parents. It is ideal that we brush their teeth every day. If this is not possible, then we should brush their teeth at least twice a week. In between brushings, pet parents are also advised to provide their dogs with dental dog chews as well as other remedies to keep canine teeth clean. However, there will always be instances when our pets will require the professional expertise of a veterinary dentist. But why, you ask, is it necessary for us to make sure that dogs also have excellent dental health? Here are 5 benefits that serve as the rationales for providing the best dental care to our dogs.
Prevents Canine Halitosis or Bad Breath in Dogs
If you were the owner of a dog that has a severe case of bad breath, would you want your dog to lick you? Would you want to hug it close to you while smelling the foul odor coming from its mouth? If you push your dog away because it has bad breath, how do you think it will feel? It will feel rejected, that’s for sure.
No pet parent would ever want to have a dog that has bad breath. And while humans can rinse their mouth with a mouthwash or spritz some breath freshener, dogs cannot. It is obvious that they need our help in making sure their breath stays fresh for as long as possible.
There are two fundamental reasons why dogs can develop halitosis, the medical term for bad breath. The first is poor dental hygiene while the second is the presence of gum disease. It is interesting to note that the second reason is contingent upon the first. What this means is that gum disease is almost always the result of chronic poor dental hygiene.
Brushing your dog’s teeth can help remove food particles and other debris that may be present in the dog’s oral cavity. These substances can react with the dog’s saliva as well as the resident bacteria in the mouth. Microorganisms feed on whatever organic matter is present in the mouth. And like everything that feeds, these microorganisms will need to eliminate, too. Unfortunately, their metabolic wastes often come in the form of noxious substances that can render the dog’s breath as smelly or stinky.
If brushing cannot remove these food particles, then a veterinary dentist can address the problem in a more decisive manner.
Prevent and Remove the Buildup of Plaque and Tartar
We mentioned above that there are “resident” microorganisms in the dog’s mouth. This is normal. What is not normal is when we allow these microorganisms to flourish. Meticulous canine dental care can help remove these microorganisms while also removing the resources that they depend on to survive. This is crucial if ever we want to prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar.
The presence of food particles on the dog’s teeth as well as in between the gum and tooth is beneficial to resident microorganisms. They feed on these food particles, allowing them to multiply at a rapid pace. As the microorganisms increase in number, they begin secreting a thin protective film on the surface of the teeth. This serves as a barrier between the germs and the outside environment. We know this thin film as plaque. It is colorless and quite sticky. The good news is that it is easy to remove plaque from your dog’s teeth. Frequent brushing often does the trick.
However, if you do not remove the plaque from the dog’s teeth, this can calcify or harden to become tartar. This is a tougher protective covering for germs. Tartar serves as a bunker for germs, allowing them to proliferate underneath the tartar. One has to understand that ordinary tooth brushing alone will not remove tartar. Dog dental chews will not remove it, too. Only a veterinary dentist can.
Regular brushing of the dog’s teeth can help prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar. Brushing and the use of dental dog chews can help remove plaque buildup. However, when it comes to removing tartar, only the dental scaler of a veterinary dentist can remove tartar buildup.
Prevent Canine Periodontal Diseases or Gum Diseases
In the preceding section, we talked about the importance of dental care in preventing plaque and tartar buildup. We know that microorganisms depend on both plaque and tartar for their survival. It protects them from the acidic environment of the dog’s mouth as well as from the mechanical action of brushing the teeth. The question now is what will happen if microorganisms continue to proliferate?
We have to understand that plaque and tartar are microorganisms’ defensive perimeter. It protects them from outside interference so they can continue with what they do best – destroy tissues. Microorganisms may not be able to destroy the teeth, but they sure can eat away at the gums.
The gums are very important support structures of the teeth. In addition to providing structural support to the teeth, gums also form an airtight seal around each tooth. This prevents the entry of microorganisms to the less dense tissues of the teeth.
Microorganisms in the gum line cause tissue inflammation. If allowed to progress further, the gum inflammation (gingivitis) can lead to the destruction of the gum tissue. This creates an opening into the deeper structures of the teeth. This can lead to bleeding gums, canine bad breath, loose teeth, and receding gums.
You may want to know that 4 out of 5 dogs in the US suffer from periodontal disease or canine gum disease. This underscores the magnitude of the problem. It is, therefore, up to pet parents to help maintain the optimum dental health of their dogs.
Regular brushing can help prevent the buildup of sticky dental plaque on your dog’s teeth and gums. If this is not sufficient, then a veterinary dentist can remove tartar. Remember, these two structures are critical to the survival of microorganisms in the dog’s oral cavity.
Reduce the Risk of Damage to the Dog’s Vital Organs
Because of the destruction of the gum tissues, germs can now enter the bloodstream. Once in the blood, these germs can reach any other organ in the dog’s body. If the germs get caught up in the heart, they can stick to the valves. These are very important structures inside the heart. They promote the forward movement of blood as it moves through the different heart chambers.
Germs present in the valves of the heart can cause inflammation. If the valves become inflamed, they will not be able to close properly. This compromises the forward flow of blood. The dog can experience difficulty breathing, dizziness, weakness, and unusual swelling of the limbs. It can also compromise the delivery of oxygen as well as nutrients to the different cells and tissues.
Microorganisms present in the liver can undermine the organ’s principal function – the detoxification of metabolic byproducts and other harmful substances. Since the liver can no longer function at 100%, toxins and waste materials can accumulate in the blood. These, too, can produce other health problems. For instance, increased levels of nitrogenous waste materials in the blood can reach the dog’s brain and cause hepatic encephalopathy.
If the germs reach the kidneys, they can also cause inflammation such as glomerulonephritis. This reduces the kidney’s ability to filter blood and eliminate waste products through the urine. In other words, it can result in the accumulation of toxic waste products in the blood.
These germs that originate from the dog’s mouth can also affect other organs like the brain, spleen, and lungs, among others. That is why it is very important to observe proper dental care for dogs.
Promote Better Digestion and Nutrition
The teeth may be a part of the dog’s skeletal system, but its principal function is digestion. A dog’s teeth are important in breaking up its food into smaller pieces. It mixes this with its saliva to form a bolus of food. Once the bolus enters the stomach via the esophagus, it undergoes chemical digestion. The digestion that occurs in the dog’s mouth is part-mechanical, part-chemical. The digested food then enters the small intestines to be further digested. At this point, nutrients get absorbed into the bloodstream and delivered to the tissues.
It is, therefore, easy to imagine the impact of poor dental care on a dog’s digestion and nutrition. Gum diseases can lead to tooth loss. It can also alter the properties of saliva, which is important in the initial digestion of carbohydrates. With an incomplete set of teeth, the dog may not be able to break down its food into smaller pieces. This means more work for the stomach, lengthening the amount of time needed for digestion.
If food is not digested completely, then the small intestines will not be able to absorb all of the nutrients. These will go to waste and can undermine the nutrition of the dog.
It is important to observe good dental care for your dog. This is crucial if you want it to grow healthy and lead a happier life.