Dental problems can cause significant pain and other health issues for your dog. Today, our San Jose vets explain how to identify dental health problems in your dog. We also list common dental diseases in dogs and how these issues can be prevented or treated.
Your Dog's Oral Health
Your dog's dental health plays an integral role in its overall health and well-being. Your dog uses their mouth, teeth, and gums to eat and vocalize, so if its oral structures are damaged or diseased and stop functioning properly, pain can become an issue and interfere with its ability to communicate and eat normally.
In addition, bacteria and infections that cause many oral health issues in dogs won't just stay confined to your pup's mouth. Left untreated, the infection and bacteria may make their way throughout your pet's body, damaging organs as they circulate through the heart, liver, and kidneys and leading to more serious and long-term impacts on your canine friend's general health and longevity.
How to Identify Dental Issues in Dogs
While specific symptoms will differ depending on the condition, if you notice any of these symptoms or behaviors, there is a chance that your dog is suffering from dental disease or problems.
Common symptoms of dental problems in dogs include:
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Excessive drooling
- Visible tartar/calculi
- Loose or missing teeth
- Swollen, red or bleeding gums, especially around the area of the inner cheek
- Difficulty picking up food or toys
- Difficulty eating or not eating at all, slow eating
- Plaque accumulation on tooth surfaces
- Weight loss
- Pawing at their mouth or teeth
If you notice any of the above-listed symptoms of dental problems in your dog, make an appointment with your vet in San Jose as soon as possible for a dental exam. The sooner your dog's dental disease is diagnosed and treated, the better potential outcomes for your dog's long-term health.
Common Dog Dental Problems
There is a wide range of health issues that can impact your dog's teeth, gums, and other oral structures. Bad breath is one of the most common complaints we hear from dog owners. While it may seem fairly harmless, halitosis is typically a sign of a more severe dental disease in your dog's mouth.
One of the most common and serious forms of health problems in dogs affects about 80% of canines by the time they turn 3 years old: periodontal disease.
This infection is caused by bacteria in dental plaque and often starts with mild tooth discoloration. If your dog doesn't receive regular dental care in the form of tooth brushing at home and at least an annual dental exam, plaque builds up and hardens into tartar. The tartar then takes hold beneath the gum line, trapping bacteria and kicking off a cycle of infection and damage to your dog's oral structures and the teeth's supporting tissues.
Plaque & Tartar
Bacteria and food debris build-up and stick to the surface of your dog's teeth. If it's not brushed away, it becomes plaque, which negatively affects tooth health.
Plaque that remains stuck on the surface of the teeth combines with minerals in a dog's saliva, then hardens into calculus (tartar), which firmly attaches itself to the teeth and will need to be removed during a dental exam.
When tartar begins to take hold underneath the gum tissue, you may notice redness, inflammation, and irritation here. This leads to a condition called gingivitis. Plaque bacteria will be continually introduced below the gum line, resulting in infection in the gums.
As further tissue damage takes place and the formation of bacteria below the gum line occurs, your dog's immune system will react by sending white blood cells to kill the bacteria. Unfortunately, many of the soft and bony tissues of the teeth can become damaged during this process. This condition is referred to as periodontitis.
Tooth Root Abscess
These commonly impact large premolar teeth. Tooth root abscesses often lead to painful soft swelling under the eye. Once bacteria advance to the roots of the teeth, tooth roots are destroyed, leading to the death of tissue. Pus or abscesses can form as a result of the excessive number of white blood cells in the area. By the time osteomyelitis (deep bone infection) has gained a foothold, dental surgery is usually needed.
Once periodontal disease advances, dogs can lose their teeth or need tooth extractions if they are loose and causing pain or difficulty eating.
Preventing Dental Issues in Dogs
The best way to help prevent dental problems from developing in your dog is to brush and clean them routinely. You'll have a much better chance of keeping your dog's teeth and gums healthy if plaque is brushed or cleared away before it can cause damage or infection.
Our veterinary dentistry services at Bloom Plaza Animal Hospital are here to help you keep your pooch's teeth in great condition. Bring your pooch in for a professional dental examination and cleaning once a year. Think of dental appointments at our animal hospital as similar to taking your kitty for an appointment at the veterinary dog dentist. These appointments for animals are much like human dentist appointments in that they focus on protecting and improving your dog's dental health.
To prevent oral health issues from becoming a problem in the first place, we recommend cleaning your dog's teeth and gums while they are still a puppy and will be able to quickly adjust to the process. If this proves difficult, dental treats and foods are available to help you keep your dog's teeth healthy.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.