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All about doggy dental care

February is national pet dental health month, what a mouthful right? It is sponsored by the AMERICAN VETERINARY MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (AVMA) and despite us not being an american company we thought now would be the perfect time to discuss the importance of your dogs dental care.

Five Bite sized facts you may find quite alarming:

1)Gum disease is five times more common in dogs then in humans

2)over 80% of dogs have some stage of gum disease before the age of 3

3)Dental surgery at the vets is among the most expensive veterinary procedures

4)most insurance company's do not cover dental work

5)poor dental care is often the root cause of serious conditions such as cancer, kidney and liver disease, and heart disease.

lets take a closer look into the four stages of dental disease and the problems your dog could face if not treated in time.

Stage 1

Early stages of dental disease is characterized by gingivitis. This is an inflammation of the gums as a response to the presence of plaque, tartar, and bacteria. Your dogs mouth is more alkaline which is unfortunately a more ideal environment for the formation of bacteria. The presence of bacteria in plaque formed above and bellow the gum line evokes an immune response. White blood cells will be sent to the gums an the enzymes they produce to fight bacteria will cause tissue damage in the gums. At this stage your dogs gums may look swollen an sometimes a thin red line is visible bellow the teeth. The good news is that gingivitis is reversible and a vet should be able to solve the trouble with relative ease.

Stage 2

The second stage is referred to as early or pre-periodontal disease. During this stage tartar will be more evident as plaque layers up to form this brown more callus like substance. Again the gums will be inflamed and your dogs breath will begin to smell bad. At this point your dog would require a professional cleaning by a vet, with a possible course of antibiotics. If viewed on a oral radio-graph your dog can display up to 25% of bone loss from its jaw structure.

Stage 3

Known as serious or moderate periodontal disease it is defined by a horrific 25-50% bone loss viewed by an oral radio-graph. At this stage the gums can easily bleed as a loss of gum attachment to the tooth has occurred. Gaps around the tooth/teeth known as periodontal pockets make it even easier for bacteria to transfer into the blood stream. Signs of this stage include bad breath, blood in the mouth, pain in the mouth and tooth loss.

Stage 4

Extreme or chronic periodontal disease is the final stage. By now your dog will be in severe pain and could be facing multiple tooth loss/extraction. Even worse is the chance of systematic damage/infection that can occur as a result of bacteria entering the blood and travelling to other organs. Treatment at this stage can be very expensive and the damage caused to other organs could prove to be life changing.

It can be easy to be fooled by your dogs potential issues as they cant directly tell us if their is a problem. The truth is dogs hide pain rather well and despite popular opinion will rarly stop eating when experiencing dental pain. So how do i know what to look out for? here is a quick list to help you decide if your dog needs a trip to the vets for their teeth:

-Plaque and/or tartar on teeth

-red or inflamed gums

-bad breath

-loose teeth

-blood in saliva/on dental toys/in food or water bowl


-pawing at the mouth

-strange noises when eating

-difficulty picking up food

Preventing dental disease and achieving that hollywoof smile

As with everything prevention is always better then treatment. Have a dental routine planned out and implemented as soon as you have your dog. By starting when the dog is young you should be able to train your dog to accept dental care easily and prevent any of the nastiness discussed earlier.


yes tooth brushes for dogs exist! and using one is very effective at keeping your dogs teeth clean and healthy. It has been proven to be up to 4 times more effective then using dental treats, supplements and diets. Finger brushes are a good place to start with puppies. They are soft so do not hurt the gums and being an extension of your finger makes it less scary for your puppy. They wont do they job forever and will need to be upgraded to a proper dog tooth brush designed to remove stains more effectively.

It is important to choose a brush that is right for your dogs mouth size/shape and not be too firm as like our own teeth you can wear away the enamel. Be sure to use a dog specific tooth paste as the flavors in them can help the dog to accept the brushing. Fluoride is extremely toxic to dogs so never use human tooth paste. Try to brush your dogs teeth every day or at least a few times a week to keep teeth clean and healthy.

The truth about dental treats...

You are probably familiar with treats and pet foods designed to clean your dogs teeth. Their are lots on the market and can even be seen on TV adverts all the time. It is true that some of these can be used to help with dental care but in all honesty they are rarely enough to sufficiently keep teeth clean. The chewing action can help to remove plaque from teeth and the added ingredients such as enzymes can also help to break drown the plaque. However most of these contain cereals and other carbohydrates that begin to be broken down into sugars by amylase found in saliva. We all know sugars are hardly the best for teeth and can also be responsible for an imbalanced diet. This is why it is our advise that your brush instead and use other dental supplements to help instead of dental treats.

Dental supplements

In addition to brushing you can also use dental powders to add to your dogs food. These products tend to be a more reliable dental aid and contain less sugars. Their are also foams and gels that can be applied to your dogs teeth to help with plaque. You could also use mouth washes added to your dogs water as an extra protection. And finally dental toys would be a better substitute for dental treats.

What we can do in the salon

The Signature Stylist has a dental Spa add on to your groom which helps with plaque and bad breath. We can use Tropiclean teeth gel which is easily applied and helps to provide minty fresh doggie kisses, however We also offer a more effective teeth cleaning service using the emmi pet ultrasonic tooth brush. The emmi pet system is an electronic brush that uses ultrasonic pulses to generate millions of micro bubbles in your dogs mouth. These micro bubbles collide with the plaque on your dogs teeth, loosening the plaque effectively and silently. This method involves no actual brushing meaning that their is no sound and no damage caused to the gums/enamel. We can add teeth cleaning to your dogs groom or even just book your dog in for a stand alone teeth cleaning. We give each dog their own brush head as to not risk any contamination. Initial Cleaning sessions usually take around 30 mins and we also offer a package deal for multiple sessions. All teeth cleaning sessions are subject to an initial examination of the teeth by one of our stylists who will check whether your dog is suitable for teeth cleaning and then you will be asked to sign our teeth cleaning disclaimer which can be found at the end of this article. (For more information on pricing and our emmi pet teeth cleaning service please see our teeth cleaning page on our website or email us at )

Before and after photos from teeth cleaning

Above is our salon manager's very own labradoodle Clarice. Clarice is 8 years old and has quite recently started to have teeth cleaning using our emmi pet system. The emmi pet has started to remove the plaque from her teeth and in turn provided her with healthier looking gums. We will continue to document her progress with teeth cleaning through our blogs for you all to see.

Emmi pet teeth cleaning disclaimer

Thank you for booking emmi-pet teeth cleaning with the Signature Stylist for your pet. Our emmi-pet teeth cleaning service is exactly that- a teeth cleaning service. It is suitable for dogs with mild to moderate tartar build up. It can help gum disease, remove plaque and tartar and freshen breath. The operator is not a veterinarian and teeth cleaning is NOT a substitute for veterinary treatment where a dog requires dental work beyond cleaning.

Owners should be aware that:

-removal of even mild tartar build up can reveal conditions that could not be seen prior to removal that may need/require veterinary treatment.

-Emmi-pet teeth cleaning can be effective at healing gum disease and removing plaque and tar tar build up but is less effective at removing staining on the teeth. (staining is cosmetic and has no ill effect on the dogs welfare).

This disclaimer must be signed before any teeth cleaning is performed in our salons. This can be signed on the day or prior to your dogs appointment (we can send this disclaimer through email for signing).

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