Teeth problems are among the most common health problems in dogs. Our vets in Springfield will help you identify, treat, and prevent some of the most common dental issues found in your canine companion.
Plaque & Tartar Buildup
Just like humans, dogs will accumulate plaque and tartar buildup 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). Tartar will remain stuck to the tooth until it is scraped off with an object such as those used by a veterinarian.
The main causes of gum disease and tooth loss in dogs are plaque and tartar buildup. Gingivitis (very red and swollen gum line), discolored deposits on the teeth, and increasingly bad breath are the most common signs for a dog owner to look out for. As the dental disease progresses, dogs may experience worse breath and gum bleeding.
Periodontal disease is the breakdown of the gums and bones that surround the teeth. This usually happens when untreated plaque and tartar adhere to the tooth and make their way beneath the gum line.
Gingivitis develops into periodontal disease as the gum and bone around the tooth deteriorate. As a result, pockets around the tooth may form, allowing food and bacteria to accumulate beneath the tooth. If untreated, dangerous infections can develop and teeth begin to fall out.
Common symptoms of canine periodontitis include:
- 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
If you notice any of these dental disease symptoms present in your dog, please contact a veterinarian.
With all of the chewing that dogs do while eating or playing, tooth fractures are not uncommon. Even common dog items, such as bones or hard plastic toys, can cause tooth fractures.
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.
A pocket of bacteria that has built up in the mouth (typically around the tooth root) is what causes an oral infection. Although periodontitis is the main cause of infections, trauma-induced chewing on hard or sharp objects can also start an infection. As the bacteria enter the bloodstream and damage or destroy the heart, liver, kidneys, or brain, some infections can be fatal.
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.
The health and strength of their teeth and bones can be easily improved and maintained by adding food or water additives. Even small changes, such as giving dental chews instead of less healthy treats, can improve oral hygiene in your dog.
Brushing your dog's teeth regularly is an ideal tactic for dog owners to use. Although it is not very realistic, brushing their teeth every day would be best if your dog will tolerate the process.
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.