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Grin and bear it: regular tooth care will give your dog a healthy smile.

LIKE SOME PEOPLE, some dogs have breath that will knock a moose off its feet at 10 yards. Sometimes there are underlying causes, like serious disease, that no amount of preventative tooth care will cure. But for the garden variety mouth problems associated with poor dental hygiene--bleeding gums, cavities and bad breath--regular tooth care will help.

The easiest and simplest route to healthy teeth in your dog is to take it to the vet a couple times a year for a thorough exam and cleaning. If you have just one dog or maybe two, you may find the cost high, but it will save you in time and trouble.

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But if you have more than one dog, or you prefer to take a hands-on approach, it's not hard to do preventative dental work on your own. About all you'll need is a tooth scaler, which you can buy at veterinary supply stores.

Scalers are small, chisel-like implements with a sharpened edge. The easiest way to learn to use them is to get someone who already knows how, like your vet, to show you. The process is fairly straight forward: insert the end of the chisel blade between the gum line and an accumulation of tartar, and then, flicking the chisel down and out, chip the tartar away. Done correctly, the tartar will come off in flakes. You'll be surprised at how effective it is.

One way to make your scaling job easier is to give your dog an uncooked beef knuckle bone to chew for an hour or two. Your dog's chewing will knock off much of the tartar deposits on his teeth, making your job that much easier. After scaling, you can maintain his new smile with regular brushing with specially formulated canine toothpaste, although that takes a level of commitment many dog owners don't have.

Scaling your dog's teeth a couple times a year will go a long way towards preventing cavities, but it won't eliminate them. If your dog--especially an older dog--seems to be losing his appetite or picking at his food, he may have a cavity. That calls for a visit to the vet for an exam and a possible extraction. It is money well spent, however, and will make your dog's life happier and considerably less painful.

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Title Annotation:Sporting Dog Forum
Author:Carty, Dave
Publication:Gun Dog
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 20, 2012
Words:384
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