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Dogs + Dental

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 the abnormal growth of excessive gum tissue. The gums may appear reddened or inflamed and may become so enlarged that it is difficult to visualize the teeth. In some cases, gingival hyperplasia may be localized to specific areas and its appearance may mimic the appearance of a mass or tumor. Gingival hyperplasia is most commonly treated with the surgical removal of the excessive proliferative tissue, referred to as gingivoplasty. Although it results in a significant improvement in clinical signs, gingivoplasty does not typically cure the condition.

  • Anesthesia-free dentistry is a service that is commonly offered at pet stores and grooming facilities. Veterinarians use general anesthesia during dental procedures to permit a thorough oral examination and treatment of any diagnosed dental disease. Unfortunately, anesthesia-free dentistry is often a higher-stress option than the alternative. Scaling the teeth involves placing sharp instruments inside the mouth and with a wiggly pet, injury can occur. Anesthesia-free dentistry is far more limited than veterinary dentistry. Dental cleanings should only be performed while your pet is under anesthesia. Your veterinarian will customize your pet’s anesthetic plan for your pet’s overall health condition.