by Audrey Harvey, DVM
Have a look at your dog’s teeth and gums, particularly those big molars at the back of his mouth. He should have pink gums and clean white teeth, and his breath shouldn’t be offensive. If you can see reddening of his gum line and hard brown tartar on his teeth, his mouth is not very healthy, and it can make the rest of his body unwell too.
How Does Tartar Form?
The first step in the development of dental disease is the formation of a sticky sugar-protein mix on your dog’s teeth which allows bacteria to quickly stick to the surface of each tooth. This revolting sounding mix is now known as plaque. The bacteria then produce their own sugars which combine with food debris and attract even more types of bacteria. Yuk!
From this point, the plaque gets thicker, and it starts to spread into the little pocket between the tooth and the gum. The bacteria that infect this area are anaerobic, that means they live without oxygen. They cause destruction and damage to surrounding tissues.
Plaque can harden, and when it does, it is then called tartar. It can no longer be removed with a toothbrush, and over time, more plaque will stick to this hard tartar.
Your dog’s body will respond to the bacteria in his gums, and this too can cause damage to the tissues surrounding his teeth.
This is periodontal disease, and it can lead to tooth loss and disease in other parts of the body.
The Effects of Dental Disease
Dental disease is harmful to your dog on so many levels.
At the very least, he has rotten breath and isn’t very nice to snuggle up with.
His gums will be painful, and that can make eating difficult. If the disease affects the bony structures of the jaw that hold the teeth in place, then it is possible for the jaw to fracture. This is more likely in small breeds of dogs who develop disease around their molar teeth.
Scientists have found evidence that periodontal disease can cause microscopic changes in your dog’s kidney, liver and in the muscles that control the valves which separate the atrium and ventricles of their heart. There have also been cases of dogs that developed lumpy accumulations of bacteria on their heart valves, which can make them very sick indeed.
Preventing Periodontal Disease in Your Dog
Fortunately, you can protect your dog from these painful and dangerous health conditions. It just takes time and commitment on your part.
You must brush your dog’s teeth every day to remove plaque and stop it turning into hard tartar. If you choose the right toothbrush and toothpaste, he won’t mind at all.
Use the Happytails Herbal Dental Care Kit to protect your dog’s teeth and gums from this painful disease. The finger toothbrush will fit neatly over your finger and make it easy to clean the furthest corners of his mouth. The kit comes with a toothpaste which contains Prickly Elm and Echinacea which help to fight the bacteria that cause plaque and tartar.
Combine this with a daily squirt of a Probiotic spray in his mouth. This spray is loaded with good bacteria which will help to prevent the dangerous bugs from getting a foot hold.
Dental disease in dogs is a preventable disease. With the right products and only 15 minutes a day, your dog will enjoy both a healthy mouth and a healthy body.
Audrey Harvey is a veterinarian who has worked in small animal practice for 20 years, and has been involved in teaching and competing in dog obedience and agility. She is passionate about preventative health care in dogs, particularly obesity management and the prevention of boredom related behavioral problems. Audrey lives in Brisbane Australia, and shares her couch with an Australian Cattle Dog, an Australian Working Kelpie and two Whippets.