Canine oral disease is largely preventable with a regular dental care regime. But if your dog’s teeth go unattended, a number of problems can occur over time. Learn what dental diseases are common in dogs, and how to go about treating them here.
Bacteria sticks to your dog’s teeth, creating biofilm that becomes plaque and eventually tartar. Buildup of this hardened bacteria above and below the gum line causes inflammation of your dog’s gums. Signs of gingivitis include bleeding, redness, swollen gums, and bad breath. Gingivitis is reversible with regular teeth cleanings, but can cause serious health problems if it is not treated.
This severe stage of periodontal disease is a painful infection that occurs when bacteria flourishes under the gumline near the deeper structures that support the teeth. Signs of periodontitis include loose teeth, bad breath, tooth pain, sneezing, and nasal discharge. Periodontitis can result in tooth loss and spread infection to the rest of the body, damaging internal organs like the heart and liver. Treatment may include veterinary cleanings, removal of teeth, and antibiotics.
Proliferating gum disease
This condition is an overgrowth of the gums, in which they begin to cover up your dog’s teeth. There are two types of proliferating gum disease that commonly affect dogs: hyperplasia and epulides. Symptoms of both include an increase in height and thickness of gums, bleeding, halitosis, excess drooling, and decreased appetite. Proliferating gum disease must be treated to avoid gum infection. Common treatments include antibiotics, and in some cases, surgery.
Bad doggie breath isn’t a joking matter - it may be your first sign of serious dental health problems. Halitosis is caused by bacteria growth along the teeth and gum line. Check your dog’s mouth for tartar and plaque buildup, usually seen as a brown or yellow substance on the teeth. A consistent tooth care regime, including regular brushing and dental cleanings by your vet, is effective in stopping halitosis.
Dental caries occur less frequently in dogs due to the makeup of their saliva and tooth enamel, but can still form from bacteria on the tooth’s surface. Look for black, decaying areas on the tooth at the gum line or on top of molars, as well as softened enamel. Cavities can cause pain, difficulty in chewing, and in extreme cases, organ disease if bacterial toxins release into the bloodstream. Tooth extraction is a common treatment for caries, though some teeth can be filled and saved.
Carnassial tooth abscess
The upper fourth premolar tooth is the largest in your dog’s mouth. One of this tooth’s three roots is affected by this condition when excess bacteria travels up through the gum line, or reaches the root through the bloodstream. If this area becomes infected, it is extremely painful for your dog. Symptoms of this condition include swelling, discharge below the eye, fever, loss of appetite, and depression. External facial symptoms may look like a bug bite, a wound, or an eye infection, and the tooth typically does not look affected since the infection is internal. Tooth extraction is the most common method of treatment, though a process similar to a root canal is sometimes effective.
Like humans, dogs can also develop apical abscesses under the gumline. This infection occurs at the tip of the root, where pus formations appear under or in the tissues surrounding the dog's tooth. Typically caused by periodontal disease, this condition can cause mild to severe discomfort and will spread if left untreated. Symptoms include halitosis, discolored teeth, swollen gums, facial swelling, and sensitivity when eating.
Masses that appear in your dog’s mouth area, including the lips, tongue, gums and lymph regions surrounding the mouth, sometimes form as a result of periodontal disease. Symptoms of mouth tumors include tooth movement, sores, bleeding, difficulty eating, excessive drooling, and halitosis. A biopsy will determine if the growth is malignant and must be surgically removed.
Dental disease carries serious risk to your dog’s health. If you notice any symptoms of these issues, be sure to consult your veterinarian.
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional advice due to what you may have read on our website.