It is estimated that over two-thirds of dogs over the age of three have periodontal disease (infection of the tissues surrounding the teeth). Brushing three times a week is the minimum recommendation to help remove plaque and prevent tartar accumulation. In order to be successful at brushing your dog's teeth, you must make it a positive experience for both of you. Do not use human toothpaste or baking soda. A list of dental products and diets that have been accepted by the Veterinary Oral Health Counsel can be found on www.vohc.org.
In veterinary dentistry tooth repair or restoration that fully covers the tooth is called a crown. Crowns are used after root canal therapy, when enamel is not present due to wear or congenital disease, causing part of the enamel not to form. An impression is made of the tooth requiring the crown, along with the surrounding upper and lower teeth. A crown is then made at a human dental lab. Crowns are most often metallic, composed of titanium, chromium, and stainless steel. Under normal wear, and with special care, the crown should last for your dog’s lifetime.
Plaque and tartar forms on teeth daily and if allowed to accumulate will cause progressive periodontal disease. Cleaning your dog’s teeth every day at home will help prevent plaque and tartar build-up. For proper dental evaluation and care, your dog must be safely placed under general anesthesia. The examination usually includes dental X-rays and probing to evaluate gum bleeding and periodontal pockets. Tooth scaling will be performed, using both hand and ultrasonic scalers, to remove tartar above and below the gum line. Removing plaque and tartar before disease occurs is the foundation of preventative dentistry.
Dental disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a condition in which the tissues supporting the teeth become inflamed. When a pet develops dental disease, significant quantities of bacteria reside within the mouth and the oral tissues. These bacteria can enter the bloodstream and travel to other areas, specifically the heart, liver, and kidneys, causing distant or systemic effects. The bacteria that are found within the mouth of pets with dental disease are the same bacteria associated with both endocarditis and valvular disease in dogs and cats.
Dental disease is one of the most common medical conditions seen by veterinarians. The most common dental problems seen in dogs are periodontal disease and fractured teeth. Periodontal disease is a term used to describe infection and associated inflammation of the periodontium and begins with gingivitis. The best way to prevent tartar build-up is through daily tooth brushing using canine toothpaste. Tooth fractures may involve the crown of the tooth, exposing the sensitive dentin or they may also extend deeper to expose the pulp, which contains nerves and blood vessels. Avoid giving your dog hard chew objects that cannot bend.
According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, over 80% of dogs have signs of dental disease by the time they reach 3 years of age. Dental pain in dogs may take on a wide variety of appearances, but in many cases a dog may not show any outward signs of pain. Sometimes dogs may exhibit signs such as decreased interest in eating dry food or hard treats, chewing more slowly than usual, dropping food while chewing, excessive drooling, pawing at the mouth, new or worsening resistance to having the face or mouth touched. The only effective treatment for dental pain is to address the dog’s underlying dental disease. The best way to prevent dental pain is to ensure that your dog receives regular dental care through a home dental care plan and regular veterinary dental care.
The center of the tooth is referred to as the root canal and contains soft tissue called pulp. Root canal involves removing the pulp from the center of an injured tooth, sterilizing the canal, and replacing the removed pulp with dental materials preventing bacteria from penetrating the center of the tooth. If your dog breaks a tooth to the extent that the pulp tissue is exposed, bacteria and oral debris enter the tooth resulting in pulpitis. Once a tooth is broken with the pulp exposed there are only two choices for treatment: root canal therapy or extraction. Root canal therapy is less invasive than extraction but requires advanced training and specialized equipment. Your veterinarian can help you find a board-certified veterinary dentist.
Dogs often break their teeth from chewing on bones, antlers, and hard chew toys. There are five classifications of tooth fractures ranging from enamel fractures to tooth root fractures. Clinical signs can include chewing on one side of the mouth, excessive drooling, dropping food while eating, pawing at the mouth, and facial swelling. A broken tooth needs attention to prevent infection and pain. Your veterinarian may perform root canal or extract the tooth. Eliminating hard chew toys and treats can prevent tooth fractures.
Gingival hyperplasia is a term used to describe the abnormal growth of excessive gum tissue. Gingival hyperplasia is caused by an increase in the number of cells within the gums. In chronic or severe cases, inflammation and its secondary effects (mineral or calcium deposition) may be observed. Gingival hyperplasia is most commonly observed in Boxer Dogs. Other predisposed breeds include Bulldogs and, less commonly, Cocker Spaniels.
Gingivitis is a medical term that refers to inflammation of the gums. Stomatitis may involve the gums, tongue, inner surfaces of the lips, and/or the floor and roof of the mouth. Gingivitis may be caused by a bacterial infection from plaque bacteria on the teeth and is usually associated with poor oral hygiene and can lead to more severe periodontal disease. The cause of stomatitis in dogs is unknown but may be caused by a hyperimmune response of the gum tissues to bacterial biofilm. The first step of treatment is a complete oral health assessment under general anesthesia combined with a thorough cleaning of the teeth. A consistent homecare program will improve your pet’s prognosis for gingivitis. The prognosis for stomatitis is variable depending on the pet.