Dogs can easily begin to experience dental issues from a build-up of plaque and tartar that hasn't been properly cleaned away. Regular at-home care and professional veterinary dental care can help prevent this. Our vets in Deer Park share some of the most common types of dental problems in dogs and some of the prevention methods that can protect their teeth.
Dental Disease in Dogs
Keeping a dog's teeth healthy and clean involves daily teeth brushing as well as ongoing routine professional dental exams and cleanings. By bringing your dog to the vet for routine care you allow the vet the opportunity to check for any concerning signs and offer treatment options as soon as there is any type of concern.
If you do not provide your dog with proper oral hygiene and dental care issues can arise, beginning with the buildup of plaque and tartar.
Plaque is a whitish substance made up primarily of bacteria, that if left on the tooth, will harden and turn a more yellowish color (also called calculus). Tartar will remain stuck to the tooth until it is scraped off with an object such as those used by a dog or cat dentist. When left untreated, plaque can build up causing decay and eventual tooth loss. The most common signs for a dog owner to look out for are gingivitis (very red and swollen gum line), discolored deposits on the teeth, and increasingly bad breath. As the dental disease gets worse, dogs may experience even worse breath as well as bleeding of the gums.
What are the most common dog teeth problems seen?
There are a number of types of dental problems in dogs that our vets see. Come of the most common types of dental disease and problems in dogs include:
Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease)
When a dog experiences gum disease, the bacteria have been allowed to develop below the gumline which can directly affect the structures that hold your teeth firmly into place. This most commonly occurs when untreated plaque and tartar stick to the tooth and make their way beneath the gum line.
This disease starts in the form of gingivitis and develops into periodontal disease as the gum and bone around the tooth deteriorate. As this occurs, pockets around the tooth can develop, allowing food and bacteria to collect below the tooth. If left untreated it can contribute to both bone and tooth loss.
Some of the symptoms commonly seen with gum disease in dogs are:
- Discolored teeth (brown or yellow)
- Loose or missing teeth
- Bad breath
- Weight loss
- Inflamed or bleeding gums
- Excessive drooling
- Blood on chew toys or in the water bowl
- Favoring one side of the mouth when chewing
- 'Ropey' or bloody saliva
- Reduced appetite
- Problems keeping food in the mouth
Fractured / Broken Teeth
Broken teeth or fractures can happen easily with dogs. This is because they like to spend time chewing on different objects. Even everyday items that dogs use can be the cause of a tooth fracture such as bones or hard plastic used to make toys.
Dog chew toys should be small enough that the dog doesn't have to entirely open its mouth, but large enough that there won't be a concern of accidentally swallowing or choking on the toy.
Infections of the Oral Structures
When bacteria thrive in a dog's mouth it can lead to oral infections which are little pockets containing a large amount of bacteria. Infections are primarily caused by periodontitis but can also be initiated due to trauma-induced chewing on hard or sharp objects. Some infections can be fatal as the bacteria makes its way to the bloodstream and cause organ disease/failure in the heart, liver, kidneys, or brain.
How to Prevent Dental Problems in Dogs
A daily dental care routine for your dog can help with their oral hygiene needs and prevent serious concerns from occurring.
There are also a number of additives for food and water that will help to improve the strength and health of your dog's oral structures. Adjusting your dog's diet can also increase oral hygiene, even with small exchanges like providing dental chews instead of less healthy treats.
You should also be taking the time to thoroughly brush your dog's teeth every day. Daily brushing, as long as your dog can stand it, is a good way to help combat the buildup of plaque.
Along with daily brushing, your dog should have annual examinations and professional dental cleanings. Some smaller breeds of dogs should go two or more times a year due to their teeth's shallow roots.
If you would like to learn more about recommended dog and cat dental care, please reach out to your vet about dental care in Deer Park.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.