Detecting Gum and Tooth Disease

A Dog Depends On Healthy Teeth and Gums

The average person may not understand how critical this issue is to a dog – unless 1) they own or have owned a dog and 2) have experienced these problems – suffering the consequences.

We have raised Dalmatians for over 20 years and have learned this lesson. We watched Lady start to chew gingerly and delicately at first. Then she wouldn’t take her treats or crunchy bones. A trip to the vet and we discovered just how serious the problem had become. Chewing was actually uncomfortable – it hurt to eat. That should tell you a lot right away.

Well after several hundred dollars in vet bills, we learned how critical “dental care” is to a dog and its health. Not only do healthy teeth help chewing but healthy gums are important to holding the teeth in place and comfort of eating. Additionally, some gum diseases lead to other problems just like humans. Heart disease, stomach and similar problems are caused or exacerbated by poor dental health.

It Is Easy To Overlook – If You Are New To Pet Ownership

For some reason, the common wisdom is that a dog should have “bad breath”. Imagine what they eat and where they have been. The truth is simply much different. Other than some food odor – a “bad” smell should not exist and must be investigated. Because of this misconception many don’t check and most don’t “brush” a dog’s teeth.

Watch Your Dog’s Health Closely

Paying attention to your dog’s health is important to you both. Your dog’s well being, outlook, attitude and quality of life are important. Your wallet will also benefit from some preventive action – I promise.

If you catch a dog’s teeth problems early you can avoid the pain and discomfort of more severe dental disease. The easiest way to do this is — look at the teeth. “Look” means inspect and remember. Regular attention will alert you to unusual changes or issues that when small can be resolved by you rather than a professional.

Inspecting and Remembering Your Dog’s Teeth

The first time will be a little strange but with care and some kindness, it will become a process that you will become comfortable with in a short time. Just lift your dog’s lips all around the mouth. Look at the front and back teeth. The point is to observe and remember. The first few inspections set a “base line” for you and your dog’s present condition.

Remember, you and your dog have a “relationship” and this inspection is an extension of that mutual care and concern. Be gentle, speak softly, move slowly and allow your dog to understand what you are doing. He or she will pull back. Be ready. Don’t “jump” just wait and stroke around the mouth and nose until another chance to move the lips and look at the teeth. The whole issue is one of trust and will take a little time but it is not impossible.

Additionally, during the annual checkups your veterinarian will also take a look at your dog’s teeth. Obviously, you will want to make sure there is a routine to these exams and that you report any generalized concerns during the vet visit. Your vet is absolutely the best source for education on what to look for and how to treat any problems that may crop up.

What To Look For Between Vet Visits

Between the vet visits you should watch out for:

* Bad breath or any unusual changes in breath;

* Any reluctance your dog shows chewing or unusual behavior while chewing like whining;

* Any unusual or unexpected salivation – different then when he or she sees food or a treat – you will know when it s outside the norm;

* If you see red and/or puffy gums, watch them for a period of a few days. See if there is a change in condition. How does your dog react when he or she is eating. Any concerns contact your vet;

* If any of the gums are bleeding and there is no obvious reason – that is cause for concern and a trip to the vet’s office;

* Even tartar and hard coating on the teeth called calculus which is the result of plaque build-up is important. Believe it or not, dog’s teeth can be cleaned just like ours if it is too serious. Try some crunchy treats, bones and other solid items. Give them to your dog and see if that helps. A constant diet of caned food will add somewhat to the problem. If it does not improve or grows worse, consult your vet.

* Be on the look out for missing and/or loose teeth during your inspection. Watch closely, your first base line will tell you what to look for in the future. In some instances you may want to keep a journal to discuss with the vet.

* Then there is the general “catch all”. Anything that just doesn’t look “right”. We learned quickly that this will come natural to almost any pet owner. There is a sense we develop that warns. Just be open to those concerns and act as you feel best.

Always consult with your vet. Watch for early signs and resolve the problem early. In a future article we will describe the more serious aspects of dental disease and its more detailed care.

Do You Grind Your Teeth?

Bruxism is simply defined as excessive grinding and or clenching of the teeth. Grinding your teeth brings considerable force to the surface of the teeth, causing much wear and damage, as the teeth were designed to tear up and chew food. Teeth are destroyed by these excessive forces over a period of time.

The causes of this are still being investigated, but teeth grinding may be caused by both physical and psychological factors. Physical strain on the body may result in teeth grinding. For example, dehydration or nutrient deficiencies have been shown to be associated with the issue. The involvement of psychological factors in teeth grinding include stress and anxiety.

Teeth grinding which occurs when one is asleep may sometimes be a sleep disorder in its own right. Improper alignment of teeth or fillings, crowns or bridges sitting too high, or jaw not properly aligned, may all lead to the harmful habit.

A dental check up may reveal the cause. Some times a check up may reveal that a tooth is sitting too high – normally due to too much of a dental filling in a tooth, or a crown or bridge that is sitting too high. If that is the case, then the filling or crown/bridge may need to be reduced a bit or removed to be adjusted and then refitted. Once the bite is correct, the teeth grinding may stop.

Unfortunately, worn tooth structure from grinding can not be regenerated. However, teeth grinding can be reduced and even prevented. It is necessary to know the factors involved leading to the grinding. One of them, as mentioned before, is the bad occlusion or bad bite, such as when your fillings or crowns are out of alignment and not leveled with the rest of your teeth. In this case teeth just keep touching and erasing each other into tooth-dust. Problems connected with your wisdom teeth are also from this category. The first thing to be done, in this case, is to visit your dentist. The dentist is the one to know exactly how to treat the situation in which case braces may be required for proper alignment to fix the bad bite. A rigid mouth guard may be made to prevent further grinding and or clinching while sleeping.

In any and all cases a consultation to the dentist and or Orthodontist is very important. Braces or a night mouth guard may be recommended to fix the problem that will keep your beautiful healthy teeth. A dental health professional, like the Orthodontist can be a teeth grinders best friend.

The Importance Of Proper Teeth

Ideally your dentist’s only role should be preventive, to ensure that you are maintaining strong, healthy and in good condition teeth. One thing that you should be concerned with is the way in which you actually achieve your healthy teeth and gums. Your daily tooth care habits that you perform at home will contribute more than anything else to your dental condition. For good or bad, it is completely up to you to figure out what you need to know and to develop the proper habits that you need to have if you want to be able to take good care of your teeth. A good oral health program is made up mainly of three important behaviors. Brushing twice a day, flossing once a day and visiting the dentist at least every six months. It is also important to make sure that your techniques for brushing and flossing are as effective as possible.

There has been a lengthy debate about the fluoride that is found in drinking water, toothpaste and a bunch of other oral care products. Even your annual checkup and cleaning will include what is tantamount to a “tooth bath” in a gooey fluoride paste. People who practice natural and alternative health care medicine believe fluoride to be an unhealthy substance. We’re not going to take part in that debate. So, if you’re comfortable using it, you should know that fluoride has been revered as a cavity prevention tool. So double check to ensure that your toothpaste actually contains fluoride because there are a lot of non-fluoridated toothpastes in production now to keep the anti-fluoride folks happy. Follow your conscience and do what is right for you.

Flossing is done because you want to get the food out from between your teeth and under your gums. Try as you may, simple brushing will not get the job done. In terms of which floss is the best, that really depends on which floss works best for you. Studies have proven that no brand of floss is at a significant advantage over another. The thing that you need to pay particular attention to is how much space there is between your teeth. Waxed floss is going to be bigger and that means that if there isn’t a lot of space between your teeth that could be a problem. In this case, you need floss that is wax free.

We all know that too much sugar ingestion is something that causes cavities. Obviously, however, if your tooth care habits aren’t up to snuff, your problem will only get worse. Another consideration to this problem is when you eat sugar. As an example, if you’re in the habit of eating hard candy that has sugar in it, the ever present presence of sugar in your mouth is not going to help you. A situation like that means your teeth are getting bombarded with the acid produced all the time. It’s very much recommended that you allow your teeth to have a break once in a while. Dentists say going sugar free for even two or three hours can be very helpful.