Originally, I had thought that all of this brushing would help Liam to fend off the need for a dental cleaning. Last week, I discovered I was wrong.
When I was brushing Liam's teeth, I noticed him flinching from a front-tooth scrub. When I looked closer, I found that his bottom two front teeth were a little loose. And they were covered with a very hard, very yellowish substance. See this stuff? It's plaque.
Dogs get plaque much like humans so. The bacteria in their mouths melds with the sugar in their food, and that becomes a nasty and very hard substance that creeps up above the gumline. And often, it sinks down below the gums, too.
If teeth have enough of a plaque attack, they can grow loose and unstable. And, that plaque can lead to painful cavities, too.
There isn't much a person can do at home about plaque. This stuff is hard and brittle, and there's a ton of it that you simply can't see without digging around below the gum line. Those explorations hurt, and few dogs want to have that work done when they're awake. They need sedation for a deep cleaning. And that's something only a veterinarian can do.
So next week, Liam heads in for his cleaning. And I'm sad to report that he will probably lose those front two teeth. They are so loose and so worn that they are not likely to be fixed. Pulling them probably provides Liam with the best shot at a pain-free mouth.
Once his mouth heals up from that dental, we'll start brushing again. While it's true that the brushes didn't keep his dental problems away completely, he still has a full head of teeth even though he's nearing 9. And he's never had a dental before. That means brushing his teeth is working. But all of that work can't replace the work of a dental.
I think about it like this: Even with the best diet, daily brushing, daily flossing and mouthwashes, most humans need a dental every year or so. And every time we go, the hygienists find little bits of plaque to chip off. It's how the mouth works. Just as it isn't reasonable for me to expect to skip the dentist forever because I brush my teeth, it isn't reasonable to expect Liam to skip a dental forever because I brush his. The two are not mutually exclusive.
So, wish us luck at the dentist! I'll keep you posted on how he does.