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Common Dental Diseases and Problems in Dogs

Common Dental Diseases and Problems in Dogs

As a dog owner, it is important to be aware of common dental conditions that may affect your furry friend. The veterinarians at Ypsilanti have outlined some oral problems and dental diseases that you should keep an eye out for, along with helpful tips on how to prevent these issues from occurring.

Plaque & Tartar Buildup

Just like humans, dogs can develop plaque and tartar buildup over time if they aren't regularly cleaned. Plaque is a white substance composed mainly of bacteria. If left on the tooth, it will harden and turn yellowish (also known as calculus). Tartar will persist on the tooth until it is removed with an object like the ones used by a veterinarian.

Gum disease and tooth loss in dogs are primarily caused by plaque and tartar buildup. Owners should look for signs of gingivitis (very red and swollen gum line), discolored deposits on teeth, and increasingly bad breath. As dental disease progresses, dogs may experience even worse breath and bleeding gums.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease refers to the deterioration of the gum and bone that surround the tooth. This most commonly occurs when untreated plaque and tartar stick to the tooth and make their way beneath the gum line. 

The disease begins as gingivitis and progresses into periodontal disease as the gums and bone surrounding the tooth deteriorate. During this process, pockets may form around the tooth, enabling the collection of food and bacteria below it. If left untreated, serious infections can develop, ultimately resulting in tooth loss.

Common symptoms of canine periodontitis include:

  • Discolored teeth (brown or yellow)
  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Weight loss
  • Inflamed or bleeding gums
  • Irritability
  • 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 symptoms present in your dog, please contact a veterinarian for a dental exam.

Tooth Fractures

Dogs are prone to tooth fractures due to their chewing habits while eating or playing. Even common items like bones or hard plastic used in toys can cause dental damage.

It's important to choose chew toys that are small enough for the dog to hold in its mouth easily but large enough to prevent accidental swallowing or choking.

Oral Infections

An infection in the mouth can occur when bacteria accumulates in a pocket, typically located around the base of a tooth. Periodontitis is the primary cause, but injuries from biting hard or sharp objects can also lead to infection. These infections can be very serious and potentially fatal if the bacteria spreads to the bloodstream and causes organ damage or failure in the heart, liver, kidneys, or brain.

How to Prevent Dental Problems

Creating a dental care routine for your dog is a great way to maintain oral hygiene and prevent oral issues.

Introducing food or water additives is easy to improve and maintain your dog's dental health. You can also adjust their diet by replacing unhealthy treats with dental chews.

Regularly brushing your dog's teeth is the best approach, even though it might not be feasible to do it every day.

It is recommended to take your dog for an oral hygiene cleaning and examination at least once a year, and some smaller breeds may require two or more visits due to their shallow root 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.

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