Care For Our Dogs Teeth
Imagine eating nothing but canned food or kibble every day of your life without ever brushing your teeth, or perhaps once in a while just brushing them. Can you imagine your dentist selling cans of food or kibble, telling you that the products are the best and most scientific that your money can buy. Do they promote plastic or other artificial chews for your children as is promoted for our dogs?
Clearly then, dogs need owners who understand the essential connection between dogs and bones. Our carnivore friend has 42 specialized teeth, some small and some large. Twelve incisor teeth nestle in two rows between the four large, dagger shaped canine teeth. Incisors are used for tugging and nibbling at meat on bone and holding food. Like wolves in the wild, domestic dogs use canine teeth for raking and tearing meat from bone.
Triangular, knife like teeth, the premolars, are set firm with gum spaces between. Premolars slice through hide, tendons and meat and shear bones in a scissor like action. A dog’s flat molar teeth are located at he back of the mouth, close to the jaw hinge where, like a nut cracker, maximum forces act to crush meat and bone. If you watch a dog eating a chicken frame he throws it from side to side, dicing and crushing the food before swallowing in large lumps. Jaws chomp up and down, never side to side.
Like humans, dogs have a deciduous set of teeth followed by a permanent set. Puppies cut their full set of deciduous teeth between three and six weeks of age. Between four and six months of age deciduous teeth are shed and simultaneously a new set of teeth appears.
At times of teething massive upheavals occur in the gums of dogs. No wonder that puppies like to chew on hard objects to help soothe inflamed gums. And for them, the ideal “teething ring” is provided by nature, raw meaty bones.
Once adult teeth fully erupt they cease to grow. Despite their tough job they can resist wear and tear and last a life time. Minerals in the saliva maintain and repair shiny tooth surfaces.
No one knows for sure how many species of bacteria live in a dog’s mouth. Some plaque bacteria, aerobes, need oxygen and live on the surface of the plaque. Communities of aerobes and anaerobes cooperate, the waste products of one community being food for the other. The warm, wet environment of the mouth provides specialized niches where bacteria cling, crevices of the tongue, gums and tooth surfaces. If bacteria are left undisturbed they proliferate and set about changing the oral environment to better suit themselves. That’s when trouble starts.
Our dogs can suffer from periodontal disease, the foul smelling disease of the gums and supporting structures of the teeth. Anything that facilitates the development of bacteria on teeth and gums facilitates the development of periodontal disease. Trapped hair, food debris, misshapen mouths and tooth and gum injuries, especially when puppies are teething, further assist the invading plaque. As chemicals and bacteria from diseased gums enter the blood circulation other organs and systems become affected, for instance the kidneys, liver and immune system. Diseased kidneys, liver and immune system contribute to worse gum disease.
The good news is that we can prevent (eliminate the chances) of canine periodontal disease. “Use it or lose it”. If your dog’s teeth are used as nature intended , at every feeding session, and from a young age they get the wash, scrub and polish necessary to keep plaque bacteria at bay. Self cleaning occurs best in breeds with mouths resembling those of wolves and dingoes. Toy breeds and flat faced breeds and the like may find this process inadequate. Sometimes for these breeds brushing the teeth or using a soft moist rag can assist.
Recreational bones are not only hard to digest but fail to clean teeth and oftentimes they break teeth. Do you believe, seriously that wheat biscuits or kibble cleans teeth and gums? Insofar as those products remove tartar, it’s the tartar on the crowns of the teeth that gets abraded. Down on the gum line, where the bacteria do the damage, the kibble turns to sludge and further feeds the bacteria. By contrast, raw meaty bones scrape, squeegee and polish teeth and gums clean.
References; Work Wonders; T. Lonsdale (Veterinarian)