Original Question: When do I start taking my dog to the vet to get his teeth cleaned and how often? I do try to brush Bentley’s teeth a few times a week but he doesn’t like it. - Tania
Thanks for your question.
The answer is different for every pet. It will also depend on how much dental prevention techniques you are doing at home with your pet.
The quick answer is that a dental cleaning should be performed if tartar has begun to accumulate on your pet’s teeth. You certainly want to try and perform it BEFORE gingivitis begins which is inflammation of the gum. Once this begins, the gum can retract from the tooth and there can be negative changes in the mouth that can become permanent if it is allowed to progress significantly. Have your veterinarian perform a thorough oral examination and have them help you see the tartar for yourself. You can look up images of the different stages of dental disease online and compare the images with what you’re seeing in your pet’s mouth to educate yourself about the state of oral disease.
You will certainly cut down on your need to perform dental cleanings by performing dental prevention techniques at home. Brushing is best and will greatly impact your pet’s oral health. There are diets, supplements and dental treats that can reduce the speed to which tartar accumulates but many of them impact it very little. It’s always a good idea to use a product that has the VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council) seal on it. This indicates that the product has met a high standard of efficacy and is therefore much more reliable.
Keep in mind that every pet is an individual just like us. Some of them seem to be predisposed to tartar accumulation and dental disease more so than others. The particular breed of your pet can have a significant impact on their oral health as well. Work with your veterinarian to set up a standard monitoring system for dental disease and do your best to practice good preventive dental care at home.
I encourage you to watch our videos about brushing teeth and dental care.
Dr. Clayton Greenway