For dogs, dental issues are one of the most common health problems. Our Dallas vets will help you treat, and prevent some of the most common dental issues your dog can develop.
Tartar & Plaque Buildup
Dogs accumulate plaque and tartar buildup on their teeth over time, especially without regular cleanings. Plaque is a whiteish substance made up primarily of bacteria, that if left on the tooth, will harden and turn a more yellowish color (also called calculus). Just like humans, tartar will remain stuck to the tooth until it is scraped off.
Plaque and tartar buildup are the main causes of gum disease and tooth loss in dogs. 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.
The deterioration of the gum and bone that surround the tooth is also known as periodontal disease. This 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 unattended, dangerous infections can arise and the teeth will begin to fall out.
Common symptoms of canine periodontitis include:
- Weight loss
- Inflamed or bleeding gums
- Bad breath
- Discolored teeth (brown or yellow)
- Loose or missing teeth
- Favoring one side of the mouth when chewing
- “Ropey” or bloody saliva
- Reduced appetite
- Excessive drooling
- Blood on chew toys or in the water bowl
- Problems keeping food in the mouth
If you notice any of these symptoms present in your dog, please contact a veterinarian.
An oral infection is when the pocket of a tooth fills with 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.
With all of the chewing that dogs do whether they are eating or playing, it is not surprising that tooth fractures are a very common occurrence. Even everyday items that dogs use can cause 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.
How to Prevent Dental Problems in Dogs
Creating a dental care routine for your dog is a great way to maintain oral hygiene and prevent oral issues.
Introducing food or water additives is an easy way to improve and maintain the health and strength of their teeth and bones. Adjusting your dog's diet can also increase oral hygiene, even with small exchanges like providing dental chews instead of less healthy treats.
Be sure to bring your dog in for an oral hygiene cleaning and examination at least once every year. Some smaller breeds of dogs should go two or more times a year due to their teeth's shallow roots.