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Dental Disease in Dogs: Unhealthy Dog Teeth vs. Healthy Dog Teeth

Taking care of your dog's teeth is crucial for their oral and overall health. Our Poway vets discuss some common signs and types of dog dental problems in today's post.

Dental Care for Dogs

Keeping your dog's mouth clean 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.

In fact, by the time they reach the age of three, our Poway veterinarians frequently see dogs with signs of periodontal disease (gum disease) or other dental issues. This early onset of dental disease can have serious long-term health consequences for them.

The best way to ensure your dog maintains oral health is to combine at-home dental care with an annual professional dental service.  

How can I tell if my dog has a dental issue?

It isn't always easy to spot early signs of dental health issues in dogs, however, if you notice any of the following it is time to arrange an appointment with your vet:

  • 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

Common Dog Dental Issues 

1. Periodontal Disease 

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a condition that occurs when your dog's teeth accumulate an excessive amount of plaque. If plaque (a thin, sticky film of bacteria) isn't removed on a regular basis, it can harden into calculus or tartar, which is 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.

2. Oral Infections 

Periodontal disease causes the open space around the tooth roots to become infected, resulting in an infection. This infection can cause your dog a lot of pain and even lead to 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 and unhealthy gums in dogs, and missing or damaged teeth.

3. Tooth Fractures 

We all know how much dogs enjoy chewing! However, as a pet parent, you should be aware that chewing on certain items, such as bones or extremely hard plastic, can fracture or break your dog's teeth. When your dog chews on an object that is too large for its mouth, tooth fractures are more likely.

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 

Baby teeth are present in all puppies (also called deciduous teeth). In most cases, your dog's teeth will fall out by the time he or she reaches the age of six months. Some teeth, however, will remain in some cases. This can result in overcrowding, which can lead to additional plaque buildup and make it more difficult to keep your dog'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.

Is your dog exhibiting signs of a dental issue?  Contact Best Friends Veterinary Hospital today to book an appointment.

New Patients Welcome

Best Friends Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Poway companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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