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Tooth Problems & Dental Disease in Dogs

Regular dental care is essential for keeping your dog's teeth healthy, but sometimes, even with regular care, dog teeth problems can occur. Today, our Bartlett vets discuss common dental issues in dogs and what to do.

Dental Disease in Dogs

Keeping your dog's mouth clean and healthy is essential to their overall well-being, but most dogs don't receive the dental health care they need to keep their teeth and gums healthy.

Unfortunately, our veterinarians in Bartlett often see even very young dogs developing signs of periodontal disease (gum disease) or other dental issues. Developing dental disease at such a young age can have serious negative consequences for the dog's long-term health. 

An effective way to ensure that your dog maintains good oral health is to combine routine at-home dental care with an annual professional dental exam and cleaning at your vet's office.  

Dog Dental Disease Symptoms

Spotting the early signs of dental diseases in dogs can be tricky. Nonetheless, if you notice that your dog is exhibiting any of the following symptoms it's time to contact your vet to book a dental exam for your pup:

  • Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
  • Bleeding around the mouth
  • Swelling or pain in or around the mouth
  • Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
  • Excess drooling or blood in drool 
  • Discolored teeth
  • Loose or broken teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Dropping food
  • Chewing on one side

Dental Diseases in Dogs

As with people, countless dental problems in dogs can result in pain, reduced quality of life and poor overall health. Some of the most common dog dental conditions that our vets see are listed below. 

Periodontal Disease 

Periodontal disease, commonly known as gum disease, is a condition that occurs when there is an excessive amount of plaque buildup on your pup's teeth. If plaque (a thin, sticky film of bacteria) isn't regularly removed, it can harden into a substance called calculus or tartar that becomes more difficult to remove. 

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.

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. 

Besides the negative oral health impacts a tooth infection has, it can also negatively affect your dog's overall body health.  Just as in humans, there have been links found between periodontal disease and heart disease in dogs. This is due to bacteria entering the bloodstream from the mouth, damaging heart function, and causing issues with other organs. These health issues are in addition to the more obvious problem of pain caused by eroded gums, and missing or damaged teeth.

Tooth Fractures 

We all know dogs love to chew! However, as a pet parent, you should be aware that chewing on certain items, such as bones or very hard plastic can cause your pup's teeth to fracture or break. Tooth fractures are also more likely when your dog is chewing on an object that is too big 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. 

Retained Baby Teeth 

Much like human babies, puppies have a set of primary teeth that fall out by the time your dog reaches 6 months of age. That said, sometimes not all of the dog's primary teeth fall out the way they should, but instead remain in place. This can cause overcrowding which can result in extra plaque buildup and make it more difficult to keep your pup's mouth clean.

Typically, your vet will recommend these teeth be removed under anesthetic to prevent future issues. Many vets will do this when the dog is already under anesthesia for a spay or neuter.

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.

Are you concerned about your dog's oral health? Our Bartlett veterinarians are here to help. Contact Hillcrest Animal Hospital today to book a examination for your four-legged friend.

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