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Dental cleaning extend dog's life?

Species: Dog
Breed: Pug
Age: 2-5 years
My Pug Chocko has a tooth that feels loose. I think it's his lower central incisor (front bottom row middle right). He does not appear to be in any pain or discomfort. He eats regularly, chews bones, treats, etc. His food consists only of hard dog food.

My Vet examined him for about 5 seconds and, wouldn't you know it, declared him to have major plaque and in need of a deep tooth cleaning.

I have had dogs my whole life and have never seen whiter teeth and less plaque on a dog. Yet every time I visit the Vet, a deep tooth cleaning under anesthesia is what is recommended. Dogs seemed to live okay before this advance in canine dentistry.

Because I feel pushed to have this procedure done every time I visit the Vet, with either of my two dogs, I find myself second guessing my vet on everything. This is unfortunate.

Obviously, there are great benefits to having healthy clean teeth. No one would dispute that. My dog is young and his teeth look healthy. Is there any evidence that you know of that this procedure extends a dog's life? That's my broad question-complaint.

My specific question is whether I am risking great harm by letting the tooth stay as it is and naturally fall out? or should it be immediately extracted? Or maybe a wait and see approach? It doesn't look to be infected.

Thank you in advance.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I can understand your frustration at being told your dog needs an expensive procedure each time he sees the vet. I feel the same way quite often when I take my car to the garage. I am always worried that I am being taken advantage of and that perhaps the extra work that is recommended is not absolutely necessary.

I can tell you though that pretty much every animal I see over the age of 2 really should have their teeth cleaned under an anesthetic. Think about how our teeth feel if we go a day or two without brushing. Now, imagine several years without brushing...they would be in very rough shape! We can't always see evidence of this on a quick glance, but by the time we see large chunks of tartar and periodontal disease then a lot of harm has been done.

I spent a lot of time producing this answer to your question. One of the main goals of my website is to provide actual factual information as opposed to just regurgitating what is commonly believed. So, I found some journal articles for you that will hopefully help.

This study showed that periodontal disease made dogs more likely to have kidney disease.

This study showed the same thing and also that the more periodontal disease a dog has, the more likely they are to have heart disease.

This article showed that the amount of dental disease a dog has can correlate to disease in the heart, kidneys and liver.

There are also studies that show that dental disease can cause problems with the lungs, can cause a dog to be more likely to develop diabetes. There is also a study that shows that dogs who have regular dental cleanings respond better to chemotherapy treatments than dogs with periodontal disease.

The other factor is your dog's discomfort. Dogs will not show us if they have dental pain unless the pain is REALLY bad. Regular dental cleanings are the only way to thoroughly assess and clean the teeth.

Now, with all of this being said, when I see a wiggly incisor, I don't usually call that a dental emergency unless there is obvious pain when the tooth is handled. Most likely if this were my case I would recommend having the teeth cleaned within the next few months and then that incisor could be removed.

I hope this answers your questions. Please let me know if you have more.

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Thank you. If my own Vet had bothered to explain it the same way I would have already had the procedure.

She couldn't even exam his mouth more than 3-4 seconds given how nervous he was. I can barely get in there myself. The only way to know what is happening inside, is as you say, to take a thorough look while the dog is under anesthesia.

I'll take him in for the cleaning and, if they find it necessary at that point, the extraction as well. Now, to find a Vet that I trust to do it...

Thank you for your advice again and for the links to the study's!

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I can totally relate to your situation! It's very hard to examine the mouth of some dogs. But it really sounds like it's time for a cleaning and a good exam.

Hope all goes well!

Dr. Marie.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.