Caring for your dog's teeth is crucial for their oral and overall physical well-being. Our veterinarians at Weldon Spring have shared some typical indications and forms of dental issues that dogs may experience.
Dental Care for Dogs
Similar to humans, dogs require clean mouths to maintain good health and well-being. Unfortunately, many dogs do not receive proper dental care to keep their teeth and gums in good condition.
Our vets in Weldon Spring often see dogs developing signs of gum disease (periodontal disease) or other dental problems by the time they turn 3 years old. This early onset of dental disease can have serious negative consequences for their long-term health.
The best way to maintain your dog's oral health is to combine at-home dental care with an annual professional dental exam.
How can I tell if my dog has a dental issue?
It's not always easy to detect early signs of dental health issues in dogs. That said, if you notice any of the following, it's time to book an appointment with your vet:
- Dropping food
- Excess drooling or blood in drool
- Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
- Bleeding around the mouth
- Swelling or pain in or around the mouth
- Bad breath
- Discolored teeth
- Loose or broken teeth
- Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
- Chewing on one side
Common Dog Dental Issues
1. Periodontal Disease
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, happens when too much plaque accumulates on your dog's teeth. Plaque is a slimy layer of bacteria that can harden into calculus or tartar, making it harder to remove if not cleaned regularly.
Tartar buildup causes pockets to form between your dog's teeth and gum line where infection can develop. If gum disease isn't treated eventually, your dog's teeth can become loose and fall out.
2. Oral Infections
With periodontal disease, the open space around the tooth roots can become filled with bacteria, leading to an infection. This infection can cause a good deal of pain for your dog and can result in a tooth root abscess.
A tooth infection in your dog can have adverse effects on their overall health beyond just impacting their oral health. Similar to humans, dogs with periodontal disease have been found to have a higher risk of heart disease. This is because bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream, leading to heart function damage and causing problems with other organs. In addition to the discomfort caused by eroded gums and missing or damaged teeth, there are also other health issues to consider.
3. Tooth Fractures
As a pet owner, it's common knowledge that dogs enjoy chewing things. However, it's important to know that some items, like bones or hard plastics, can actually cause damage to your pup's teeth by causing fractures or breaks. Additionally, tooth fractures become even more likely if your dog is trying to chew on something too large for their mouth.
When selecting chew toys, be sure to pick something that is an appropriate size and material for your dog. Speak to your vet about what they would recommend.
4. Retained Baby Teeth
All puppies have baby teeth (also called deciduous teeth). In most situations, these teeth will fall out by the time your dog reaches 6 months of age. However, in some cases, some of the teeth will remain. This can cause over-crowding, which can result in extra plaque buildup and make it more difficult to keep your pup's mouth clean.
It can be challenging to maintain your dog's oral hygiene when certain teeth make it harder to do so. In such cases, your veterinarian may suggest removing these teeth through anesthesia to prevent potential problems. Many veterinary professionals often perform this procedure.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.