Caring for your dog's teeth is an important part of their oral and overall health. In today's post, our New Hope vets discuss some common signs and types of dog dental diseases.
Dental Care For Dogs
Keeping your dog's mouth clean is essential to their overall well-being, but unfortunately, the majority of our canine companions don't receive the dental health care they need to keep their teeth and gums healthy.
In fact, our New Hope vets often see dogs developing signs of periodontal disease or other dental issues by the time they are about 3 years old. This early start to dental disease can have serious negative consequences for their long-term health and longevity.
The best way to ensure your dog maintains their oral health is to practice at-home dental care and ensure they attend an annual veterinary dental exam.
How Do I Know if My Dog Has A Dental Problem?
It isn't always easy to spot early signs of dental health issues in dogs, however, if you notice any of the following it is time to arrange an appointment with your vet:
- Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
- Oral bleeding
- Swelling or pain in or around the mouth
- Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
- Excess drooling or blood in drool
- Discolored teeth
- Loose or broken teeth
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Dropping food from their mouth
- Favoring one side when chewing
Common Dog Dental Issues
We all know dogs love to chew! However, as a pet parent, you should be aware that chewing on certain items, such as bones or very hard plastic can cause your pup's teeth to fracture or break. Tooth fractures are also more likely when your dog is chewing on an object that is too big for their mouth.
When picking chew toys for your dog, make sure to pick something that is an appropriate size and material for your pet's size and age. Speak to your vet about what they would recommend.
Retained Baby Teeth
All puppies have baby teeth (also called deciduous teeth). In most situations, these teeth will fall out by the time your dog reaches 6 months of age. However, in some cases some of the teeth will remain. This can cause overcrowding, resulting in extra plaque build-up and making it more challenging to keep your dog's mouth clean.
Typically, your vet will recommend these teeth be removed under anesthetic to prevent future issues. Many vets will do this when the dog is already under anesthesia for a spay or neuter.
Periodontal disease, also called gum disease, is a condition that occurs when there is an excessive amount of plaque build-up on your pup's teeth. If plaque (a thin, sticky film of bacteria) isn't regularly removed, it can harden into a substance called calculus or tartar that becomes more difficult to remove.
Tartar buildup causes pockets to form between your dog's teeth and gum line where infection can develop. If gum disease isn't treated eventually your dog's teeth can become loose and fall out.
As periodontal disease progresses, the open space around the tooth roots can become filled with bacteria and cause an infection. This infection can be the source of a good deal of pain for your dog and can result in a tooth root abscess (a pocket of pus).
Besides the negative oral health impacts a tooth infection has, it can also negatively affect your dog's overall body health. Just as in humans, there have been links found between periodontal disease and heart disease in dogs. This is due to bacteria entering the bloodstream from the mouth, damaging heart function, and causing issues with other organs. These health issues are in addition to the more obvious problem of pain caused by eroded gums, and missing or damaged teeth.
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.