Common Dental Problems in Dogs

When your dog experiences dental concerns it's important to see treatment right away as it can lead to a number of more serious health complications. Today, our Doraville vets share the signs of dental issues in dogs and what some of the most common dental problems are.

The Dental Health of Your Dog

Your dog's oral health is closely linked to its overall health and well-being. Your dog uses their mouth, teeth, and gums to eat and vocalize, so when its oral structures become damaged or diseased, it can stop functioning properly and a dog can experience pain that interferes with its ability to eat and communicate normally.

In addition, bacteria and infections that cause many oral health issues in dogs won't just remain confined to your dog's mouth. Left untreated, these bacteria and infections can start to circulate throughout your pet's body, damaging organs such as the liver, kidneys, and heart. This can lead to more serious negative consequences for your canine friend's health and longevity.

This is one of the reasons regular pet dental care and veterinary dentistry are critical elements of your dog's routine preventive healthcare - regular dental cleanings can prevent health concerns, or ensure developing issues are caught and treated early.

The Signs of Dental Problems in Dogs

While specific symptoms will differ between conditions, there's a chance your dog is suffering from dental disease if you notice any of these behaviors or conditions.

Some of the most common symptoms of dental disease in dogs can include:

  • Bad Breath (halitosis)
  • Visible tartar
  • Difficulty with or slow eating
  • Pawing at their teeth or mouth
  • Missing or loose teeth
  • Excessive drooling
  • Bleeding, swollen, or red gums
  • Weight loss

If you see any of the above signs of dental disease in your dog, bring them to your Doraville vet as soon as possible for examinations. The sooner your dog's dental disease is diagnosed and treated the better for your cat's long-term health.

The Most Commonly Seen Dental Problems

There is a large list of dental problems that could potentially affect your dogs but some of the most common are:

Plaque & Tartar Buildup

Plaque is a sticky white substance that is made of bacteria and builds up on the teeth as your dog eats. This biofilm develops on the teeth and has a foul odor that worsens the longer it remains in the mouth. This plaque build-up can lead to tooth decay and the overall decline of your oral health.

If the plaque has not been cleaned away in 24-48 hours then it hardens and forms tartar, a yellow or brown-colored substance your veterinarian calls calculus. Tartar remains attached to the surfaces of the teeth and cannot be removed without being scraped off with a dental scaler or another hard object.

Tatar will cause the oral concerns that are already developing to become worse and to advance quicker. Plaque and tartar leave your dog at high risk for tooth loss and gum disease. Common signs include discolored deposits on teeth, a red, swollen gum line (referred to as gingivitis), and bad breath. Owners may notice more frequent bleeding gums and worsening breath as dental disease progresses.

Periodontal Disease

When plaque and tartar remain in the mouth, bacteria get under the gum line, eroding tissue and bone that hold your dog's teeth in place. Periodontal disease starts with gingivitis. Soft tissue and bone loss surrounding the teeth occur as the disease progresses. The teeth's support structures degrade and pockets develop around the tooth roots.

This allows bacteria, debris, and food to accumulate here and dangerous infections to develop. When this is left untreated it will eventually lead to tooth loss.

Oral Infections

If periodontal disease develops, bacteria can make their way into the open space around tooth roots, leading to infection, which may manifest as a tooth root abscess.

Pus then develops in the bacteria-laden pocket around the tooth to fight the infection. Left untreated, the abscess may become so large that it leads to swelling in the face and anatomical deformity.

While oral infections are often caused by periodontal disease, they often happen secondary to trauma in the mouth. Trauma may be due to injury from chewing on hard or sharp objects.

Tooth Fractures

Dogs that are powerful chewers can fracture their teeth chewing on very hard plastic, antlers, or bones. Most vets will recommend against allowing your dog to chew on anything harder than what you would want to bang hard on your knee.

The size of chews can also factor into the occurrence of tooth fractures - a chew that's too large for a dog's mouth may make the tooth and chew line up that breaks the outside of a tooth (known as a slab fracture).

Your veterinarian may recommend picking chews, which are small enough to hold in the mouth without swallowing by accident. However, these are not so large that your dog will need to have a fully open mouth to safely chew on them.

Ways to Help Prevent Dental Issues

The only way to make sure that dental problems do not develop is with routine brushing and professional dental care. You'll give your dog a much better chance of having healthier teeth and gums if plaque is brushed away before it can cause damage or infection.

To keep your dog's teeth in great condition and their breath fresh, schedule your pet for a professional dental examination and cleaning once a year. Dental appointments at WellPet Humane are similar to taking your dog for an appointment at the veterinary dog dentist.

The best time to start an oral health routine with your dog is when they are still a puppy. You may also consider adding dog dental chews to their routine.

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.

Is your dog showing signs of dental concerns? Contact our vets at WellPet Humane to book an appointment.