Originally Posted by NaughtyNibbler
I'm thinking I'll likely do some proactive dental care with my puppy, Cassie. I know with even the best efforts, dogs can end up with damaged teeth. Hopefully with periodic exams and cleaning, I can prevent a situation that affects several teeth.
Yep, I've ended up being convinced cleanings really are
necessary in most dogs (at least the ones eating kibble), after having senior problems in dogs that didn't have them, in the past. The bacteria from gum disease almost certainly shorten lives too. This article is interesting, on the difference in life span:
It seems like it really starts to matter around age 3. By that age, 80% of dogs have gum disease starting. That's when they start accumulating lots of tartar, if they're fed kibble. We actually were taught to use the tartar build-up on the back molars as one of the markers to "age" dogs that "look" young in rescue--if it's there, the rule of thumb is they're at least 3.
If you want to be conservative with cleanings (and anesthesia), and your dog is an enthusiastic chewer, there's an argument that you don't have to do it every year, even on an adult kibble-eater -- if you regularly offer healthy chews to help clean the teeth and scrape the gums. (For my dogs, that means an occasional raw frozen edible bone, like a chicken drumstick or turkey neck, or a chicken foot, or beef trachea tubes, and beef bully sticks.)
Since my dogs are chewers, and based on how they present, my vet has approved my dogs being in an "every few years" rotation--he checks the teeth during their annual exam, and when they're showing build up, we schedule the dental. Sometimes that means every other year, sometimes every 3, but we base it on the individual dog.