Dental disease in dogs is one of the most overlooked health problems that they face. Almost all dog dental diseases stem from one major cause, one that is preventable. Dog dental diseases are treatable if caught in time.
1. The overwhelmingly predominant cause of dog dental disease is a buildup of bacteria along the gum line of the animal. Such a buildup occurs when plaque, a colorless film that sticks to a dog’s teeth that is composed of mucus, food particles, and bacteria, stays on the teeth of the dog for a while. The bacteria begin to flourish and leads to a disease called gingivitis, an inflamed condition of the gums. The gums can become infected if this is not halted, which exposes the root of the tooth involved. Other bacteria get into the root area and this leads to periodontitis, an inflammation of the tissues under and around the tooth.
2. The symptoms of dog dental diseases are easily recognized. What people call “doggy breath” is a common one, as the bacteria that are present in the mouth cause a foul odor. Yellow or brownish caked-on deposits along the gum line called calculus will be present. The gums will be red as they are becoming infected, not the pale pinkish hue they should be. The dog may be very sensitive to having his mouth or face touched and the dog may have a hard time eating or be eating less.
3. In the mouth of a healthy dog the edges of the gums fit tightly to the teeth. But when a dog starts to develop gingivitis, the tartar and calculus buildup can force the tooth and gum away from each other, allowing the harmful bacteria present to gain access and grow. The teeth become loose when these bacteria make their way to the roots of the teeth. This cannot be reversed once it has progressed too far and the loss of the tooth will eventually occur. If bacteria gets into the bloodstream of the dog then even more serious consequences can result. Organs can become damaged, especially the heart, and the liver and kidneys are at risk as well.
4. Veterinarians recommend that you brush your dog’s teeth at least twice a week using a special finger brush designed for dogs. Use a pet toothpaste which come in flavors that a dog will like. Chew toys and rawhide bones can be of use in removing plaque buildup along the gum line. Dogs that eat dry dog food are less prone to experience dental disease than those that consume moist, canned foods, but they are not immune to the problem. Vets can give your dog’s teeth a professional cleaning once a year, with teeth being polished and given a fluoride treatment as well. To do this the dog needs to be anesthetized, which in some breeds can be a tricky situation. If there is advanced dental disease, antibiotics will be prescribed to fight the bacteria.
5. Many people believe that they can use toothpastes and toothbrushes designed for humans on their dogs but this is something you should not do. Toothpastes can be harmful if ingested in some cases and the toothbrushes are too big for dog’s teeth and will not do the job. Also, simply giving your dog a bone to chew on will not guarantee that he will be free of dental maladies, nor will feeding him only dry food.
Dental disease in dogs goes beyond bad breath. Your dog can also be affected by serious oral health threats that can have an impact on more than just her mouth. Dental disease in dogs is a serious matter because it has the potential to lead to other serious health problems that can affect everything from their hearts to their kidneys.
1. As with humans, dogs can also develop dental disease. Dental disease in dogs ranges from mild to severe. Monitor your dog’s oral health and talk to your veterinarian if you notice any problems—dental disease can lead to other health issues. Your veterinarian will be able to suggest a course of treatment to keep your pet in good health. Things to watch out for include periodontal disease, endodontic disease and oral tumors.
2. Your dog can experience a buildup of plaque on his teeth. If that plaque reaches below the gumline, the bacteria it contains will secrete toxins. Those toxins inflame the surrounding gum tissue. This inflammation leads to tender gums and lessens the attachment of his teeth to gums and bone. If left untreated, this form of dental disease can lead to tooth loss, jaw fractures and heart disease.
3. Oral tumors are a common dental disease in dogs. The majority of tumors are benign. If your dog develops an epulis, or benign tumor, no treatment will be needed. Malignant tumors are less common. If your dog develops one that is fast growing, it could displace teeth, leading to tooth loss. It might also metastasize, spreading throughout her body and leading to cancer in other areas.
4. Endodontic disease is the inflammation of the blood vessels and nerve tissue that make up the inside of your dog’s teeth. The disease is usually triggered by some kind of trauma that damages your dog’s tooth. This can include a fracture that occurs while she chews on a rock or a fully broken tooth caused by being hit by a car. Endodontic disease can lead to the death of a tooth. Worse, as with periodontal disease, this dental problem can lead to bacteria entering the bloodstream and causing other health issues for your dog.
Other Forms of Dental diseases in Dogs
5. Other forms of dental disease in dogs include cavities. They occur less often in dogs than in humans, but if your dog has one that progresses far enough, he could lose a tooth. If your young puppy has small, rough brown teeth, he might have enamel hypoplasia. This condition results in the enamel that protects his teeth failing to develop fully. Some dogs eat just fine with this condition; others will require a veterinarian’s intervention to strengthen their teeth.