We talked to our friends at Back Bay Vet about the importance of dental care for dogs. Here’s what Pam Bendock, DVM owner and lead vet has to say on the matter:

Dog dental care 101

Imagine not brushing your teeth for a week, a month, or maybe even your whole life. You’d be no fun to be around, but worse yet, your mouth likely would be a source of discomfort as well as a detriment to your overall health.

The bacteria in the mouth likes to find its way to vital organs where it can cause a whole slew of problems in the heart and liver and sometimes kidneys

Unfortunately, most of our furry kids live the above scenario.  Maintaining oral health is a super important part of pet parenting, and one of the simplest ways to help your furry kids live a longer, happier life.    All pets benefit from a routine that includes good oral health care.

Approximately 85% of pets over the age of three suffer from dental disease.  The severity can vary from plaque and tartar accumulation to severe periodontal disease, with certain dogs and cats being more prone given their breed or the ability of their saliva to help flush their oral cavity and fight off bacteria. Dental disease is best treated as soon as it’s diagnosed, and yearly dental hygiene procedures can help keep your furry kid feeling their best.

A dental hygiene procedure should be done with the patient under general anesthesia.

Radiographs are taken to evaluate the 65% of the tooth that lives underneath the gumline, looking for fractures or abscesses or malformations that cannot be visualized during any type of exam.   The teeth are counted, probed, and inspected for any problems and then a treatment plan is formulated.  If no problems are discovered (this is what we hope for), the teeth are cleaned ultrasonically, polished and a fluoride treatment may be applied to their surface.  If extractions are necessary, they may all be performed at one visit or split between two visits if your veterinarian feels that would easier for your pet.  The removal of teeth is often a surgical removal, requiring the removal of some bone to access the tooth root and dissolvable sutures are placed in the gumline to help with comfort and healing.   Analgesic medications are used to help maintain comfort both in the hospital and post operatively at home.

Seeing your pet feeling great after the disease in their mouth has been addressed is one of the best feelings ever.  The mouth heals very quickly and once it does a routine of daily brushing can begin to help prevent the disease from returning.  If brushing is not in your wheelhouse, special treats, dental powders and oral rinses can help, too, although brushing is the Gold Standard.

And yearly procedures will help make sure that everything stays healthy and smelling great.

Happy Brushing!

Pam Bendock, VMD

Pam knew she wanted to be a veterinarian at age four. After receiving undergraduate and doctorate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, she completed an internship in small animal medicine and surgery at Angell Animal Medical Center. Pam's desire to bring high quality veterinary care to one of Boston’s favorite neighborhoods led to the founding of Back Bay Veterinary Clinic in 2000. With a big heart and a soft touch for her patients and their families, Pam leads the team and constantly strives to bring the highest quality and most progressive care to the practice. Outside the office, Pam can be found with her two daughters, husband, their menagerie of pets and enjoys equestrian sports, gardening, yoga and exercise. A foodie by heart, Pam's always in pursuit of the next best bakery, ice cream shop or artisanal offering.