Oral hygiene is crucial for everyone including our pets in order to ensure optimal dental health. In today's post, our Doraville vet dentists discuss dental conditions such as cavities in dogs and how they are treated and prevented.
Cavities in Dogs
Many pet parents considering dental care for their canine companions ask 'Do dogs get cavities?'. The answer is a resounding yes. A dog cavity is an area of damage on one of your dog's teeth caused by prolonged exposure to the bacteria found in food. When bacteria remain on your pup's teeth for a long time they cause acid to build up which in turn begins to eat away at the outer layers of the tooth causing decay and damage.
Over time the enamel on your dog's tooth will be completely destroyed and the root of the tooth will be damaged. In severe cases, this will result in the tooth falling out or needing to be extracted.
Canine cavities are relatively rare thanks in part to the low amounts of sugars and acids in most dogs' diets, but there are some breeds that are more likely to get cavities than others. Pugs, Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, bulldogs, poodles, and Shih Tzus are all predisposed to have higher instances of tooth decay.
Typical Signs of Cavities in Dogs
It is incredibly important to monitor for any cavities and treat them before they cause advanced tooth decay, can be challenging so it's important for your dog to attend regular dental checkups at their vet dentist's office.
If you notice any of the following symptoms it could be an indication of a cavity or another oral health issue and you should make an appointment with their dog dentist right away:
- Excessive drooling
- A dark spot anywhere on the tooth
- Discomfort or pain in the mouth area
- Tooth discoloration, especially yellow or brown deposits near the gum line
- Dropping food
- Lack of appetite
Treatment For Cavities in Dogs
When your dog is diagnosed as having a cavity their vet dentist will assess the level of damage the cavity has caused to your pup's tooth. There are 5 stages of damage:
Stage 1: Only enamel affected
Stage 2: Enamel and dentin affected
Stage 3: Enamel, dentin, and pulp chamber affected
Stage 4: Structural crown damage
Stage 5: Majority of crown lost, roots exposed
If your dog develops a cavity then the treatment that their vet dentist will recommend depends on the stage of the damage that they are experiencing.
For a Stage 1 or 2 tooth decay, the enamel surrounding the cavity will be removed and the crown will be restored with an amalgam filling.
For a dog tooth cavity that has reached Stage 3, your vet will perform a root canal procedure, in which the root canal will be disinfected and scrubbed and then filled. The procedure will finish with the restoration and sealing of the crown.
If your dog has been diagnosed with a Stage 4 or 5 cavity the tooth will likely need to be extracted since it will be too damaged to restore. Their veterinary dentist may use a sealant on the surrounding teeth help prevent nay further damage from occurring to your dog's teeth.
Preventing Cavities in Dogs
Ensuring that you bring your dog in for regular dental visits with their veterinary dentist is key when it comes to maintaining your dog's oral hygiene and preventing cavities. When you bring your dog in for regular cleanings their vet dentist can also catch any developing oral health issues and suggest treatment options before they turn into a more serious problem.
There are also at-home measures you can take to help your dog maintain their oral hygiene such as at-home brushing in between dog dentist visits and providing your dog with special chew toys designed to promote plaque removal.
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.