Dental problems can inflict severe pain on your dog and lead to other health issues. In this post, our vets at Danbury discuss how to identify dental health issues in your pup, outline the most common problems, and detail preventive and treatment measures.
Your Dog's Oral Health
The close connection between your dog's dental health and overall well-being underscores the importance of maintaining an active approach to oral care. Your pup relies on its teeth, gums, and mouth for eating and communication. When these oral structures are afflicted by disease or damage, their functionality may be compromised, resulting in pain that hampers their ability to eat and vocalize effectively.
Infections and bacteria often underlie many oral health issues; these harmful elements are not confined to your dog's mouth. If left untreated, they can spread and infect other parts of your pet's body, causing damage to vital organs such as the heart, liver, and kidneys. This, in turn, can lead to more serious consequences for your canine companion's health and longevity.
Regular pet dental care, commonly called veterinary dentistry, is crucial to your dog's routine preventive healthcare. You can proactively prevent health issues by consistently scheduling dental cleanings or enabling your vet to identify and address developing problems early.
How to Spot Dental Issues in Dogs
While particular symptoms will vary based on symptoms, your dog may suffer from a dental disease if you see any of these behaviors or conditions.
Some common symptoms of dental disease in dogs can include:
- Visible tartar
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Difficulty or slow eating
- Pawing at the teeth or mouth
- Loose or missing teeth
- Excessive drooling
- Weight loss
- Swollen, bleeding, or noticeably red gums
Have you observed any of the signs of dental disease listed above in your dog? If you have, promptly take them to your vet at Danbury for an examination. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for good prognoses in dental disease for dogs and lead to better long-term health outcomes.
Common Dog Dental Problems
Several potential health issues can impact your dog's teeth, gums, and other oral structures. Here are a few common conditions to watch out for.
Plaque & Tartar Build-up
Bacteria primarily compose plaque—a whitish biofilm developing on teeth, accompanied by a worsening odor the longer it lingers in the mouth. Plaque accumulation leads to tooth decay and gum disease.
If teeth go unbrushed and plaque isn't removed within approximately 24 to 48 hours, it solidifies into tartar—a yellow or brown substance known as calculus by veterinarians. Tartar adheres to tooth surfaces and requires removal through scraping with a dental scaler or a similar hard object.
Tartar exacerbates tooth decay and gum irritation. Both plaque and tartar elevate the risk of tooth loss and gum disease in your dog. Common indicators include discolored deposits on teeth, a red, swollen gum line (gingivitis), and unpleasant breath. Owners may observe increased gum bleeding and worsening breath as dental disease advances.
Plaque and tartar build-up in the mouth allows bacteria to penetrate the gum line, causing tissue erosion and bone anchoring your dog's teeth. Gingivitis marks the beginning of periodontal disease. As the disease progresses, there is a gradual loss of soft tissue and bone surrounding the teeth. The teeth's support structures degrade, and pockets form around the tooth roots, facilitating the accumulation of bacteria, debris, and food. This creates an environment where dangerous infections can develop. Ultimately, over time, the teeth loosen and begin to fall out.
If periodontal disease develops, bacteria may infiltrate the open space around tooth roots, causing infection and resulting in a tooth root abscess. The infection prompts the accumulation of pus in the bacteria-laden pocket surrounding the tooth.
Neglecting treatment allows the abscess to grow to a size that can induce swelling in the face and cause anatomical deformity.
Although periodontal disease frequently gives rise to oral infections, these infections commonly occur as a secondary consequence of mouth trauma, often resulting from injury sustained while chewing on hard or sharp objects.
Powerful chewers risk fracturing their teeth when gnawing on extremely hard plastic, antlers, or bones. Most vets advise against allowing your dog to chew on anything more complicated than you would comfortably bang on your knee.
The size of chews also plays a role in tooth fractures. If a chew is too large for a dog's mouth, it may align in a way that breaks the outside of a tooth, resulting in a slab fracture.
Your veterinarian may suggest choosing smaller chews that can be comfortably held in the mouth without the risk of accidental swallowing. These chews should not be so large that your dog needs a fully open mouth to chew on them safely.
Preventing Dental Issues in Dogs
The most reliable way to help prevent the development of dental problems with your dog's teeth is routine brushing and cleaning of your cat's mouth. If plaque is brushed away before it can cause damage or infection, you'll give your dog a much better chance of healthier teeth and gums.
To keep your pup's teeth in great condition and their breath fresh, schedule your pet for a professional dental examination and cleaning once a year. Pet dental appointments at Noah's Ark Animal Hospital are similar to taking your animal for an appointment at the veterinary dog or cat dentist. We can also treat any emerging dental health issues your dog may be experiencing.
While there is technically no official designation as a "veterinary dentist," our veterinarians in and around Danbury do offer dental care for pets. To proactively address oral health concerns, begin cleaning your dog's teeth and gums during their puppy stage when they can readily adapt to the process.
Additionally, incorporating dog dental chews into their routine is a beneficial consideration.
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.