Caring for your dog's teeth is an important part of their oral and overall health. In today's post, our Los Angeles vets discuss some common signs and types of dog dental problems.
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, our Los Angeles veterinarians frequently see dogs develop signs of periodontal disease (gum disease) or other dental issues by the age of three. This early onset of dental disease can have serious long-term consequences for their health.
The best way to ensure your dog maintains its oral health is to combine at-home dental care with an annual professional dental exam.
Symptoms of Dental Diseases in Dogs
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 have an excessive amount of plaque buildup. If plaque (a thin, sticky film of bacteria) is not 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 bacteria to colonize the open space around the tooth roots, leading to infection. This infection can cause severe pain in your dog and 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 dog teeth problems of pain caused by eroded gums, 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 very hard plastic, can fracture or break your pup's teeth. Tooth fractures are also more likely when your dog chews on something too large for its 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
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 is 6 months old. Some teeth, however, will remain in some cases. This can result in overcrowding, which can lead to extra plaque buildup and make cleaning your pup's mouth more difficult.
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.