Dogs develop dental diseases just like we do. As you can imagine it is painful and miserable for your dog. As a responsible pet owner, it is important to know what dog dental diseases could develop in your dog and take measures to prevent them from occurring.
Veterinarians have developed a classification system for canine periodontal diseases. The classifications are Early, Moderate and Advanced.
In early periodontal disease, the dog will have periodontal pockets and the beginning of bone loss.
Moderate periodontal disease includes ulceration of the gingiva -the soft tissue lining of the mouth; 50% bone loss and a slight loosening of the dog’s teeth.
Advanced periodontal disease means that more than 50% of the dog’s supporting bone has been lost, tartar build up is substantial and the dog will lose teeth if the problem is not treated immediately.
The best way to treat dog dental diseases is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. You can do this by brushing your dog's teeth regularly, by making sure its diet includes dry, crunchy food and by giving it synthetic bones, chew toys or chew treats to scrub food particles from its teeth.
In addition to periodontal disease, there are a number of other dog dental diseases that can affect your pet. The most common dog dental diseases are:
This is an infection of the gums most often caused by the accumulation of food particles in the crevices between the dog’s gums and teeth. The best way to prevent gingivitis is to make sure the dog gets a healthy, well-balanced diet of dry dog food.
Second, give your pooch chew toys. They can be made of hard rubber, nylon of some other chew-friendly material. Active chewing gives the dog’s teeth and gums a good workout while also scraping food particles, plaque and tarter from the teeth.
Halitosis or “dog breath” is usually the first sign that the dog has a dog dental disease requiring dental care. This condition is associated with early gingivitis but is so common that most owners don’t recognize that the bad breath is abnormal. Of all the dog dental diseases, this one is the easist to prevent. The best way to prevent halitosis is to regularly brush your dog’s teeth with a soft bristle brush.
If your dog will let you, brush its tongue. This will rid its mouth of more than 80% of the bacteria that can cause halitosis. Dog treats like Greenies® or Purina Dental Chews® can also help get rid of halitosis. When brushing your dog's teeth, be sure to also use an enzymatic toothpaste – one that has been formulated for dogs and not people. Human toothpaste will make your pet sick if consumed, making the experience of having its teeth brushed very unpleasant.
If the halitosis becomes severe, having your dog's teeth cleaned by a veterinarian should help to resolve this - the most minor of all dog dental diseases.
When you inspect your dog’s mouth, be sure to look for bumps or swellings as either of these could mean the dog has a mouth tumor.
There are two types of mouth tumors – benign and malignant. The benign tumors don’t spread and can usually be successfully removed. On the other hand, malignant tumors grow deep into the tissues of the dog’s mouth and can spread very quickly.
Mouth tumors are the most serious of all dog dental diseases and need to be treated by a veterinarian. Mouth tumors are usually treated with surgical excision. Radiation therapy cryosurgery (freezing) and chemotherapy have also been used alone or in combination with surgery to treat malignant tumors.
Proliferating Gum Disease
There are certain breeds such as boxers and terriers that are susceptible to proliferating gum disease. When the dog develops this disease, its gums will grow over its teeth, causing an infection. Proliferating gum disease requires an intervention by a vet to be corrected.
If you notice that your dog’s gums are swollen, you may also see a reddish coloring. This inflammation can be around a single tooth or the entire bottom half of the dog’s mouth. Swollen gums are most often caused by gingivitis, an abscessed tooth, periodontal disease or plaque and tartar buildup.
Swollen gums are a symptom and not a disease, so your vet will need to first determine what is causing the swelling, then recommend the best treatment.
Salivary cysts develop when saliva leaks from the dog’s salivary ducts into the tissues near or within the mouth. This may have been caused by trauma to the duct or the duct may have been broken or bruised. Sometimes, an abscess or tumor in the area puts enough outside pressure on the duct to pinch it off. In any event, the pressure of continued saliva production by the glands will finally cause the walls of these tiny tubes to break and saliva will leak into the surrounding tissue – causing the cyst.
Like tumors, salivary cysts are usually treated with surgery. In this case, it is a removal of the damaged gland and duct. In some cases, the cyst can be managed by installing a drain for the periodic emptying of the cyst. If you are lucky, the cyst will resolve on its own, but with dog dental diseases, it is best to have it looked at by your vet to determine the best course of action.
An abscessed tooth is a painful infection at the root of a tooth or between the gum and a tooth. It is usually caused by either severe tooth decay or trauma to the tooth. This trauma can be when the dog's tooth is broken or chipped. Other causes of an abscessed tooth are gingivitis and gum disease.
Like gingivitis and halitosis, the best way to prevent an abscessed tooth from occurring is with a regular program of pet dental care – such as teeth brushing or the use of an oral rinse.
The first step in treating an abscessed tooth is usually to use antibiotics to kill any spreading infection. Next, the vet will most likely do a root canal to repair any damage caused by the abscess.
Canine Distemper Teeth
If your puppy develops distemper, the virus attacks its epithelial cells, including the buds of its permanent teeth. The infection from distemper and its associated fevers can leave these teeth buds permanently damaged so that the adult teeth come in with stained and pitted enamel – aka canine distemper teeth.
The only way to prevent canine distemper teeth is to make sure the dog gets a recombinant distemper vaccine as soon as your vet recommends it.
Dog dental diseases can have a very bad effect on your dog’s mouth and its general well being. While some of these diseases, such as mouth tumors, cannot be prevented, many others can. The secret to preventing dog dental diseases is actually very simple. Make sure you are providing good dental care for your dog that begins with regular teeth brushing!
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