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Dental problems in dogs can be extremely painful and can lead to other health issues. In this article, our vets in Anaheim explain how to identify dental health issues in your furry friend, what are the most common problems and how to prevent and treat them.

Your Dog's Oral Health

It's important to understand that your dog's dental health and overall health are closely related. Your dog relies on their teeth, gums, and mouth for both eating and communicating. When these oral structures are diseased or damaged, they may no longer function properly, causing pain and interfering with your dog's ability to eat and vocalize effectively. 

Infections and bacteria cause many oral health issues in dogs. If left untreated, these bacteria and infections can spread throughout your dog's body, damaging vital organs such as the heart, liver, and kidneys. This can lead to serious negative consequences for your furry friend's health and longevity. 

That's why regular pet dental care and veterinary dentistry are important aspects of your dog's routine preventive healthcare. Regularly scheduled dental cleanings can prevent health issues or help your vet identify and treat developing issues early.

How to Spot Dental Issues in Dogs

If you notice any of the following behaviors or conditions in your dog, it's possible that they may be suffering from a dental disease. The symptoms of dental disease in dogs can vary depending on the issue, but some common signs to look out for include:

  • Visible tartar
  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Difficulty or slow eating
  • Pawing at the teeth or mouth 
  • Loose or missing teeth 
  • Excessive drooling 
  • Weight loss 
  • Swollen, bleeding or noticeably red gums

If you have noticed any of the signs of dental disease in your dog that are listed above, it is important to bring your dog to a veterinarian in your area as soon as possible for an examination. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for good prognoses for dental disease in dogs, and can lead to better outcomes for their long-term health.

Common Dog Dental Problems 

Your dog's teeth, gums and other oral structures can be impacted by several potential health issues. Here are a few common conditions to watch out for.

Plaque & Tartar Buildup

Plaque, a whitish substance, is primarily made of bacteria and develops as a biofilm on teeth. It causes bad breath which worsens the longer it remains in the mouth. If left uncleaned, plaque can cause tooth decay and gum disease.

Within about 24 to 48 hours, plaque hardens and becomes tartar, which is yellow or brown in color.

Tartar cannot be removed by brushing and needs to be scraped off using a dental scaler or some other hard object. Tartar causes tooth decay and gum irritation to grow worse. Both plaque and tartar put your dog at high risk for tooth loss and gum disease.

You may notice signs such as discolored deposits on teeth, red and swollen gum lines (gingivitis), and bad breath. As dental disease progresses, you may observe more frequent bleeding gums and worsening breath.

Periodontal Disease

Plaque and tartar can cause a lot of damage to your dog's teeth and gums. When bacteria get under the gum line, they start to erode the tissue and bone that hold your dog's teeth in place. This is called periodontal disease, which starts with gingivitis.

As the disease becomes more advanced, the soft tissue and bone around the teeth are lost. Pockets develop around the tooth roots, which allow bacteria, debris, and food to accumulate, leading to dangerous infections.

Over time, the teeth will loosen and eventually fall out due to the degradation of their support structures.

Oral Infections

If periodontal disease develops, bacteria can penetrate the open space around tooth roots. This can lead to infection, which may present itself as a tooth root abscess. Pus then forms in the bacteria-laden pocket surrounding the tooth to combat the infection.

If left untreated, the abscess may grow so large that it causes swelling in the face and changes the shape of the affected area.

Oral infections, while often caused by periodontal disease, can also happen as a result of mouth trauma. This trauma may be caused by chewing on hard or sharp objects.

Tooth Fractures

If you have a dog that loves to chew on hard objects such as plastic, antlers or bones, be aware that this can lead to tooth fractures, especially for powerful chewers. Most veterinarians recommend against allowing your dog to chew on anything harder than what you would want to bang hard on your knee. 

The size of the chew toy can also play a role in the occurrence of tooth fractures. A chew that is too large for your dog's mouth can cause the tooth and chew to line up in a way that breaks the outside of the tooth, which is known as a slab fracture. 

To prevent such injuries, your veterinarian may recommend picking chews. These are small enough to hold in your dog's mouth without the risk of accidental swallowing, but not so big that your dog has to have a fully open mouth to chew on them.

Preventing Dental Issues in Dogs

Routine brushing and cleaning of your dog's mouth is the most reliable way to help prevent dental problems. It's important to brush away plaque before it can cause damage or infection, and this will give your dog healthier teeth and gums.

Additionally, scheduling your pet for a professional dental examination and cleaning once a year at Anaheim Animal Care & Pet Hospital can help keep your pup's teeth in great condition and their breath fresh. Our pet dental appointments are similar to taking your animal for an appointment at the veterinary clinic.

Our veterinarians can also treat any emerging dental health issues your dog may be experiencing. Though technically there is no such thing as a "veterinary dentist", our veterinarians do provide top-quality dental care for pets in and around Anaheim.

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

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.

Contact our Anaheim vets today if you have concerns about your dog's dental health. We can perform a dental exam and cleaning, along with offering treatment options and advice.

New Patients Welcome

Anaheim Animal Care & Pet Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Anaheim companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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