While dental disease is common among humans, dental disease in dogs is the MOST common form of disease. As dogs are not self-sufficient and cannot feed themselves, brush their own dogs teeth or take themselves to see the veterinarian, it is up to us as their masters to educate ourselves in dog teeth cleaning and dog dental care so that we can take proper care of our loving pets.

Canine dental disease in dogs occurs as a result of the buildup of tartar, sometimes referred to as calculus. Tartar develops when plaque (a sticky colorless film that constantly forms on the teeth consisting of bacteria, mucus and food) remains on the teeth for too long. The long-term effects of bacteria in plaque can lead to periodontal diseases, such as gingivitis or periodontitis. Gingivitis is as an inflammation of the gums. If left untreated, the gums will become infected and eventually recede, exposing the root of the tooth to further bacteria and will progress to a type of dental disease in dogs known as periodontitis.

Periodontitis is defined as an infection of the ligaments and bones that support the teeth. Dogs with this form of periodontal disease may: have abscesses, need root canals and eventually lose teeth.

There are many signs of dental disease in dogs. Foul smelling "e;doggy breath"e; indicates the presence of bacteria in the mouth. The appearance of yellow or brown deposits, known as calculus, usually appearing at the gum line, is another sign of dental disease in dogs. Red, rather than pale pink gums, are also indicative of canine dental disease. The beginning of gingivitis is indicated by a red line at the base of the gums.

Rounded edges, rather than pointed edges, where the gum meets the tooth, are another indication of dental disease in dogs. Pus, loose teeth and severe sensitivity of the mouth indicate the later stages of dental disease in dogs known as periodontitis.

Dental disease in dogs can lead to much more serious consequences, if not treated properly. Once bacteria gets into the blood stream and circulates, any number of additional medical conditions can develop. If high levels of bacteria are present, the immune system of your pet will naturally be compromised. Circulation of bacteria can also lead to organ damage. Heart problems, especially heart murmurs, are common if bacteria circulates and deposits in the heart valves. Amyloidosis (a condition in which insoluble amyloid proteins are deposited in bodily tissues and organs), often occurs in the liver and kidney of dogs with dental disease. It is quite serious when it affects the kidneys, as the kidney does not have the ability to regenerate. As a result it can lead to kidney failure and ultimately death. If left unchecked, dental disease in dogs can and will lead to a shorter life span for your pet.

Dental calculus is a very hard substance and, as such, is difficult to remove. When dealing with dental disease in dogs it is even more problematic, as it is difficult to get your pet to sit still for extended periods of time. For this reason, anesthesia has traditionally been used for teeth cleaning to combat dental disease in dogs. However, the use of injectible or gaseous anesthesia may be dangerous and in some cases can lead to coma or even death. Understandably, many pet owners are hesitant to allow the dog that they love so dearly to be placed under anesthesia and face the possibility of imminent death.

Unfortunately, by neglecting the dental health care of their dog, they are inadvertently shortening the lifespan of the pet they love and are trying to protect. In recent years,
anesthesia-free sprays and gels have become a viable alternative for the pet owner who is wary of allowing their dog to be placed under anesthesia. Sprays and gels are a safe, inexpensive and convenient alternative, as they can be administered by the owner at home.

There are several things to consider when attempting to prevent dental disease in dogs. Food is the first thing to take into consideration. There is some controversy as to whether or not hard dog foods can act as an abrasive and remove already existing tartar. At the very least, dogs who eat hard foods are less prone to dental disease than those who eat soft, moist, canned or table foods. Hard foods are less likely to adhere to the teeth and lodge beneath the gums, causing tartar buildup to develop at a less rapid rate than softer foods. Rawhide or milk bones are preferable for the same reason.

Brushing your dog's teeth on a regular basis will also help to alleviate bacteria, calculus buildup and dental disease in your dog. A natural
oral care gel or oral care sprayis recommended, thereby allowing the safe and healthy removal of tartar from your pet's teeth. In addition, a natural cleaning system will alleviate the need for antibiotics and/or anesthesia, which may compromise your pet's immune system. Some natural cleansing ingredients will even improve your pet's immune system and overall health.

Finally, regular veterinary visits are a necessity when trying to achieve optimal dental health care for your pet. It is often said that dog is man's best friend. As dog owners and lovers, let's try to reciprocate the favor.