Dental issues can hurt your dog and even affect their overall health. Today, our Diamond Bar vets explain how to spot dental health problems in your dog, the most common issues, and how they can be prevented or treated.
Your Dog's Oral Health
Your dog's oral health is really important because it's connected to their overall well-being. Think of it like this: your dog needs their mouth, teeth, and gums to eat and communicate. If something goes wrong with these parts, it can cause pain and make it hard for your dog to eat or bark.
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.
That's why it's super important to make sure your dog gets regular dental check-ups and cleaning from the vet. It can help prevent health problems or catch them early before they get worse. So, taking care of your dog's teeth is a big part of keeping them happy and healthy.
How to Spot Dental Issues 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 losing 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 Diamond Bar 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.
Common Dog Dental Problems
While a wide range of health issues can impact your dog's teeth, gums, and other oral structures, there are a few particularly common conditions to watch for.
Plaque & Tartar Buildup
Plaque is a white stuff filled with bacteria that forms on your teeth. It smells bad if it stays in your mouth too long and can make your teeth and gums hurt.
If teeth are not brushed and plaque removed within about 24 to 48 hours, plaque then hardens and forms into 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.
Tartar makes tooth and gum problems worse. If your dog has plaque and tartar, they might lose teeth and get 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.
When plaque and tartar stay in your dog's mouth, they let harmful bacteria sneak below the gum line, which slowly damages the tissue and bone that keep your dog's teeth secure. This dental problem begins with gingivitis, and as it gets worse, it leads to the loss of the soft tissue and bone around the teeth.
This weakening of the teeth's support causes pockets to form around the roots, making it easier for bacteria, food, and debris to collect and create dangerous infections. Eventually, your dog's teeth can become loose and may even fall out.
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.
Chewing on very hard things like plastic, antlers, or bones can break a dog's teeth, especially if they have strong chewes. 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, breaking the outside of a tooth (known as a slab fracture).
Your veterinarian may recommend smaller chews that your dog can hold without swallowing but not so big that they need to open their mouth wide to chew safely.
Preventing Dental Issues in Dogs
The most reliable way to help prevent the development of dental problems with your dog's teeth is by routine brushing and cleaning your cat's mouth. If plaque is brushed away before it can cause damage or infection, you'll give your dog a much better chance of healthier teeth and gums.
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 Diamond Bar Veterinary Clinic are similar to taking your dog for an appointment at the veterinary dog dentist.
To prevent oral health issues from developing in the first place, you should start cleaning your dog's teeth and gums when they are still a puppy and will be able to adapt to the process quickly. 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.