For dogs and humans dental issues are a common health problem. Our Riverside vets will help you treat, and prevent some of the most common dental issues your dog can develop.
Tartar & Plaque Buildup
Dogs accumulate plaque and tartar buildup on their teeth over time, especially without regular cleanings. Plaque is a whiteish substance made up primarily of bacteria, that if left on the tooth, will harden and turn a more yellowish color (also called calculus). Just like humans, tartar will remain stuck to the tooth until it is scraped off.
The primary culprits behind gum disease and tooth loss in dogs are the accumulation of plaque and tartar. Dog owners should be attentive to several key indicators: red and swollen gums known as gingivitis, the presence of discolored deposits on teeth, and a noticeable decline in breath freshness. As the dental condition progresses, dogs might encounter more pronounced breath odor and gum bleeding.
Periodontal disease, also referred to as the decline of the gum and bone encircling the tooth, often develops when plaque and tartar, left untreated, adhere to the tooth surface and penetrate below the gumline.
This disease starts in the form of gingivitis and develops into periodontal disease as the gum and bone around the tooth deteriorate. As this occurs, pockets around the tooth can develop, allowing food and bacteria to collect below the tooth. If left unattended, dangerous infections can arise and the teeth will begin to fall out.
Common symptoms of canine periodontitis include:
- Inflamed or bleeding gums
- Bad breath
- Discolored teeth (brown or yellow)
- Loose or missing teeth
- Weight loss
- Reduced appetite
- Favoring one side of the mouth when chewing
- Bloody saliva
- Excessive drooling
- Blood on chew toys or in the water bowl
- Problems keeping food in the mouth
If you notice any of these symptoms present in your dog, please contact a veterinarian.
An oral infection occurs when bacteria accumulate within the tooth pocket. These infections stem from periodontitis, though they can also arise from chewing on hard or sharp objects that cause trauma. Certain infections carry serious risks, as the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and lead to organ disease or failure in vital areas like the heart, liver, kidneys, or brain, potentially resulting in fatal consequences.
Dog chew toys should be small enough that the dog doesn't have to entirely open its mouth, but large enough that there won't be a concern of accidentally swallowing or choking on the toy.
With all of the chewing that dogs do whether they are eating or playing, it is not surprising that tooth fractures are a very common occurrence. Even everyday items that dogs use can cause a tooth fracture, such as bones or hard plastic used to make toys.
How to Prevent Dental Issues in Dogs
Setting up a regular dental care routine for your dog is a highly effective method to maintain oral hygiene and prevent potential oral issues.
Introducing food or water additives is an easy way to improve and maintain the health and strength of their teeth and bones. Adjusting your dog's diet can also increase oral hygiene, even with small exchanges like providing dental chews instead of less healthy treats.
Be sure to bring your dog in for an oral hygiene cleaning and examination at least once every year. Some smaller breeds of dogs should go two or more times a year due to their teeth's shallow roots.