How Often Should My Dog Get His Teeth Cleaned?

Most dog owners know that dental disease is something they don’t want their dog to have. It makes their breath smell bad, may affect their short-term and long-term health, and it can also be expensive to treat. Next to obesity, dental disease is the most common problem I see in my canine patients.

How Often Should You Dog Get A Teeth Cleaning? When they need it. When there’s gingivitis present along with visible tartar. Before the teeth start falling out on their own. For some dogs, that’s never. For other dogs, that’s every 6 months. Let’s dig deeper:

What Causes A Veterinarian To Declare A Dental Is Needed?

Every vet has their threshold for what they think deems a dental cleaning necessary. For some it’s as soon as there’s sign of calculus (the thickened tartar) or just built-up tartar. For others, it’s not until there’s some level of gingivitis.

For me, I try and catch issues with dogs before they need a professional cleaning. That means that if I see a level of tartar or plaque that I think is still possible for the owner to remove with daily “brushing,” I will give them that chance to prevent the need for a cleaning.

However, if I look at a dog’s mouth and think that they are in pain from something that can’t be addressed by the dog owner I will immediately recommend a thorough cleaning.

Why Do Dogs Need To Keep Their Teeth Cleaned?

The truth is that unchecked tartar and gingivitis (dental disease) in the mouth will cause chronic, daily inflammation that will weight on the body constantly until it’s treated. Imagine fighting an infection or having your immune system fighting something all the time.

If you want to keep your dog healthy and with you for as long as possible, great dental health is a must.

How Can I Prevent My Dog From Needing A Teeth Cleaning?

There are 3 ways for your dog to not need a dental cleaning at least once in their life:

  • Fantastic Genetics
  • Chewing on objects that keep the plaque and tartar off the teeth
  • You brush the teeth. Every. Single. Day

What About An Anesthesia-Free Dental Cleaning?

  • I don’t like them. For one, they’re getting expensive for what they are (basically chipping off tartar from the mouth with a metal dental instrument). Around here, when they were legal, they were $150 and more.
  • Did someone mention legality? Yep, in many states now anyone outside of a veterinarian or veterinary technician (licensed) doing a dental cleaning would be considered illegal.
  • What if a piece of tartar pops off and the dog accidentally inhales it? What if your dog actually bites the person trying to work on it? What if your dog freaks out?
  • If a dog’s mouth is that bad then it likely needs antibiotics or pain medicine after stirring up all that tartar, plaque, and bacteria.
  • Scrape the teeth with a metal instrument but then not polish afterwards? Micro-scratches/fractures can occur in the enamel of the teeth during any cleaning. Polishing the enamel afterwards is how you smooth the surface so bacteria and plaque have a harder time attaching. So, in reality, scraping the teeth without polishing makes it that much more likely the teeth will need another cleaning real soon.