The wide world of teeth
The evolution of teeth is pretty fascinating! I remember discussing this subject with my peers when I worked at the Zoo, where we used to run dental workshops for undergraduate dental students on comparative anatomy of animals and humans. In this world, many species do not have teeth. In fact, most species on earth are toothless because teeth are made of bone and most animals are invertebrates; meaning they have no bones at all.
But, then there are the polyphyodonts. These species are the animals that don’t just have teeth, but rather; they have several sets of teeth that can be called on in case one is damaged or falls out. Crocodiles and sharks are well known for this. Being apex predators, loss of teeth comes with the job, and so being able to replace a tooth or two is a huge evolutionary advantage.
The teeth of our best friends
And, then there are our dogs. Dogs are like us, in that they have two sets of teeth over their lifetime. This means that once their baby teeth fall out, and their adult teeth emerge, that is it – there are no more. For us humans, we know that when we have gum disease, tooth decay or general oral pain, we need to seek professional help. For our dogs however, it can be more difficult to know if there is a problem, and sometimes by the time we know; the disease is already established. I was shocked to learn that by three years of age, 80 per cent of our much-loved companions will have some sort of dog dental disease. Also, I learned that neglecting oral hygiene in our dogs may increase their risk of heart disease. Bacteria that builds up in our dog’s mouth can diffuse into their bloodstream and damage various organs including the heart.
Because oral hygiene problems can be a sign of a more systemic disease, if you notice your dog’s gums are bleeding, or they have continual bad dog breath, or are unusually salivating or there are any growths in their mouth, always seek professional advice.
Great dental health for dogs
Over the lifetime of our dogs, maintaining good dental health is invaluable to their general health and wellbeing. So, here are some additional tips, which will help to maintain and improve your dog’s overall oral health at every age:
- Introduce the training of tooth brushing. This is an effective way to prevent dental disease, and can be enjoyable if you invest the time into making it a positive experience for your dog.
- Regular veterinary visits will professionally support you and your dog to keep a check on their teeth, gums and overall oral health.
- Teach your dog to be comfortable with you touching their mouth, as well as opening their mouth. From personal experience, teaching your dog they can trust you to open their mouth is invaluable. I have been able to monitor my dog’s dental health over time because of this.
When we think of teeth, we don’t usually think beyond the mouth. But, both veterinary and human medicine show that oral health can inform a whole range of other biological diseases in the body. Therefore, it is well-worth making sure that your dog’s teeth and gums are cared for. Regular check-ups as well as using a brushing chew such as ZamiPet Dental Sticks are certainly a great way to monitor and care for your best mate’s mouth, keeping them smiling inside and out.
The information in this article was checked by ZamiPet Veterinarian and General Manager Dr Andrew McKay, BVSc, University of Melbourne, 2000. Vet Registration No: V3985
Disclaimer: This information is general advice only. Before starting any treatment or supplement with your pet, please consult your vet first for the best approach to getting your pet back to their best health.