Dental Disease in Dogs: Symptoms and Diagnosis

What is It?

Dental disease is a term that applies to any oral condition. There are many different types of dental disease in dogs.

  • Gingivitis – bacterial infection of the gums (only the gums are affected)
  • Periodontitis – bacterial infection of the gums that has increased in severity to where the teeth and ligaments are also infected. It is estimated that 2/3 of mature dogs experience periodontal disease. This is a painful and irreversible issue, that can eventually lead to tooth loss.
  • Unerupted teeth – dogs with short muzzles often have retracted jaw and not enough room for teeth to break the surface
  • Plaque and Tarter build up – dog food and saliva bacteria that coat the teeth
  • Tooth abscess – an infection surrounding the root of the tooth – this must be addressed immediately as the bacteria continue to multiply and will travel out of the tooth causing greater infection
  • Broken teeth – broken teeth cause decay within the tooth
  • Halitosis – chronic bad breath

What Causes It?

Dental disease in all its forms come from three sources:

  • Genetics
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Trauma

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What Are The Symptoms?

  • Swollen and/or bleeding gums
  • Discolored teeth
  • Missing teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Excessive saliva
  • Irritability
  • One-sided chewing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mouth pain

Is it Life Threatening?

No, however if it is left untreated certain forms can compound into life threatening infections. While many of forms of dental disease are incurable, there is much to be done to stop the issues from progressing further.

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How is It Diagnosed?

A veterinarian will do a simple oral examination on your dog. Often x-rays of the mouth are taken. If further inspection is needed, your dog may undergo general anesthesia to allow the doctor to take a more in-depth look.

What Are The Treatments?

Depending on the source of the dental disease, the treatment will be some combination of:

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 pup’s condition, please make an appointment with your veterinarian. Or, consult a virtual vet here.