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Common Dental Problems in Dogs

Dental issues in dogs can be very painful and can result in other health problems. In this article, our veterinarians in Cincinnati will explain how to recognize dental health problems in your furry companion, the most frequent issues, and how to prevent and cure them.

Your Dog's Oral Health

Understanding that your dog's dental health is directly linked with their overall health is crucial. Your dog's teeth, gums, and mouth are important for both eating and communicating. If these oral structures are damaged or diseased, they may not function properly, causing pain and hindering your dog's ability to eat and communicate effectively.

Infections and bacteria often cause oral health issues in dogs. If not treated in time, these infections and bacteria can spread throughout your dog's body, damaging vital organs such as the heart, liver, and kidneys. This can seriously affect your furry friend's health and lifespan.

Regular pet dental care and veterinary dentistry must be included in your dog's routine preventive healthcare to prevent health issues or identify and treat developing issues early on. Regular dental cleanings can help keep your dog healthy and prevent dental problems from worsening.

How to Spot Dental Issues in Dogs

If you notice any of the following behaviors or conditions in your dog, it's possible that they may be suffering from a dental disease. The symptoms of dental disease in dogs can vary depending on the issue, but some common signs to look out for include:

  • Visible tartar
  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Difficulty or slow eating
  • Pawing at the teeth or mouth 
  • Loose or missing teeth 
  • Excessive drooling 
  • Weight loss 
  • Swollen, bleeding or noticeably red gums

If you have noticed any of the signs of dental disease in your dog listed above, it is important to bring your dog to a veterinarian in your area as soon as possible for an examination. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for good prognoses for dental disease in dogs and can lead to better outcomes for their long-term health.

Common Dog Dental Problems 

Several potential health issues can impact your dog's teeth, gums, and other oral structures. Here are a few common conditions related to teeth problems to watch out for.

Plaque & Tartar Buildup

Plaque is a whitish substance that develops as a biofilm on teeth and is primarily made of bacteria. It causes bad breath, which worsens the longer it remains in the mouth. If left uncleaned, plaque can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Within 24 to 48 hours, plaque hardens and becomes tartar, which is yellow or brown in color.

Tartar cannot be removed by brushing and requires scraping off using a dental scaler or some other hard object. It worsens tooth decay and gum irritation, and both plaque and tartar put your dog at high risk for tooth loss and gum disease. You may notice signs such as discolored deposits on teeth, red and swollen gum lines (gingivitis), and bad breath. As dental disease progresses, you may observe more frequent bleeding gums and worsening breath.

Periodontal Disease

Plaque and tartar can negatively impact your dog's teeth and gums. When bacteria seep under the gum line, they can start eroding the tissue and bone that uphold your dog's teeth. This is known as periodontal disease, which begins with gingivitis. 

As the disease progresses, the soft tissue and bone around the teeth start to deteriorate. Pockets develop around the tooth roots, which allow bacteria, debris, and food to gather, resulting in hazardous infections. 

Over a period, the teeth will become loose and eventually fall out due to weakening their support structures.

Oral Infections

If periodontal disease develops, bacteria can enter the open space around the tooth roots. This can lead to an infection, manifesting as a tooth root abscess. Pus then forms in the bacteria-laden pocket surrounding the tooth as a response to the infection. If left untreated, the abscess can grow so large that it causes swelling in the face and changes the shape of the affected area.

Oral infections, although often caused by periodontal disease, can also occur as a result of mouth trauma. This trauma may be caused by chewing on hard or sharp objects.

Tooth Fractures

If you have a dog that loves to chew on hard objects such as plastic, antlers, or bones, be aware that this can lead to tooth fractures, especially for powerful chewers. Most veterinarians recommend against allowing your dog to chew on anything harder than you would want to bang hard on your knee. 

The size of the chew toy can also contribute to tooth fractures. A chew that is too large for your dog's mouth can cause the tooth and chew to line up in a way that breaks the outside of the tooth, a condition known as a slab fracture. 

To prevent such injuries, your veterinarian may recommend picking chews. These are small enough to hold in your dog's mouth without the risk of accidental swallowing but not so big that your dog has to have a fully open mouth to chew on them.

Preventing Dental Issues in Dogs

Regular brushing and cleaning of your dog's mouth is the most effective way to prevent dental problems. Plaque must be removed before it can cause damage or infection, leading to healthier teeth and gums for your furry friend.

Furthermore, scheduling an annual professional dental examination and cleaning for your pet at Hyde Park Veterinary Clinic can help maintain your dog's teeth in excellent condition and keep their breath fresh. Our pet dental appointments are similar to regular veterinarian visits.

To prevent oral health problems from developing, it's best to start cleaning your dog's teeth and gums when they are still puppies and can quickly adapt to the process. You may also want to consider incorporating dog dental chews into 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.

Contact our Cincinnati vets today if you have concerns about your dog's dental health. We can perform a dental exam and cleaning and offer treatment options and advice.

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