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Common Dental Problems in Dogs

Dental problems in dogs can be painful and can lead to other health issues. Today, our vets in  Ketchumwill help you identify dental problems in your dog, discuss common problems, and provide prevention and treatment options.


Your Dog's Oral Health

It is important to understand that your dog's overall health is connected to the health of its mouth. Dogs use their mouth, teeth, and gum to eat and communicate, so when these structures become damaged or infected, they may experience difficulties eating or speaking, and even feel pain.

Moreover, the germs and infections that cause many oral health problems in dogs can spread to other parts of their body if left untreated, leading to illnesses that can affect their liver, kidneys, and heart. Therefore, taking care of your dog's teeth and visiting the vet for regular dental checkups is crucial. With regular cleaning, you can prevent health issues or detect any problems early on.

How to Spot Dental Issues in Dogs

Certain symptoms, such as behavior changes and physical signs, can identify dental disease in dogs.

  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Visible tartar
  • Difficulty with or slow eating
  • Pawing at their teeth or mouth
  • Missing or losing teeth
  • Excessive drooling
  • Bleeding, swollen, or red gums
  • Weight loss

If you see any of the above signs of dental disease in your dog, bring them to your Ketchum vet as soon as possible for examinations. The sooner your dog's dental disease is diagnosed and treated, the better for your cat's long-term health.

Common Dog Dental Problems

Several common oral health issues can affect dogs, including problems with their teeth, gums, and other structures.

Plaque & Tartar Build-up

Plaque is a white substance made mostly of bacteria. It forms on teeth and smells worse the longer it stays in the mouth. T Plaque build-up can lead to tooth decay and gum irritation. 

If teeth are not brushed, and plaque isn't removed within 1 to 2 days, it turns into tartar. Tartar is a yellow or brown-colored substance your veterinarian calls calculus. Tartar remains attached to the surfaces of the teeth and cannot be removed without being scraped off with a dental scaler or another hard object.

Tartar makes tooth decay and gum irritation worse. Plaque and tartar leave your dog at high risk for tooth loss and gum disease. Sings include discolored deposits on teeth, a red, swollen gum line (referred to as gingivitis), and bad breath. As dental problems worsen, gums may bleed more, and breath may smell worse. 

Periodontal Disease

When plaque and tartar build-up in the mouth, bacteria can penetrate below the gum line, damaging the gums and bones that support the teeth. Initially, this leads to gingivitis, but if left untreated, the condition can worsen, causing soft tissue and bone loss around the teeth.

This results in the formation of pockets around the roots of the teeth, which can accumulate bacteria, debris, and food, leading to the development of dangerous infections. Over time, the teeth become loose and may eventually fall out.

Oral Infections

If gum disease occurs, bacteria can enter the space surrounding the tooth's roots, causing an infection and leading to a tooth abscess. This results in the formation of pus in the bacteria-infected pocket around the tooth to fight the infection.

If left untreated, the abscess may grow so large that it causes swelling in the face and leads to anatomical deformities. Mouth infections are generally caused by gum disease, but they can also occur due to injuries in the mouth, such as chewing hard or sharp objects.

Tooth Fractures

Dogs with strong chewing habits are at risk of damaging their teeth by chewing on hard plastic, antlers or bones. Veterinarians advise against letting your dog chew on anything harder than you would comfortably hit your knee with. 

The size of the chew toy is also important in preventing tooth fractures. If the chew toy is too large for the dog's mouth, it can cause a tooth to break on the outside (a condition known as slab fracture). 

To prevent such injuries, your vet may suggest picking chew toys that are small enough to fit in the dog's mouth without the risk of accidentally swallowing them. These toys should also not be too big, requiring the dog to open its mouth wide to chew on them safely.

Preventing Dental Issues in Dogs

Taking care of your dog's dental health is important if you want them to have healthy teeth and gums. This can be achieved by regularly brushing their teeth and gums to prevent plaque build-up, which can cause infections and damage. This simple routine can significantly reduce the likelihood of your dog developing oral health issues.

To maintain your dog's oral health and keep their breath fresh, we recommend scheduling a professional dental examination and cleaning at Sun Valley Animal Center once a year. Our dental appointments are similar to taking your dog to a dental veterinary specialist.

To prevent oral health issues from developing in the first place, it's best to start cleaning your dog's teeth and gums when they are still puppies and can adapt to the process quickly. You can also consider adding dog dental chews to their routine to help keep their teeth clean and healthy.

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 dental health? Contact our vets at Sun Valley Animal Center to book an appointment.

New Patients Welcome

Sun Valley Animal Center is accepting new patients at our two convenient locations! Our vets are passionate about the health of our Valley's pets. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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