Periodontal disease is one of the most common diseases affecting dogs. In fact it affects 85% of pets over the age of 3 years of age. The problem starts when plaque and tartar are allowed to build up on the teeth.
Plaque is a mixture of food, saliva and bacteria which, if not cleaned (brushing or chewing) will mineralises into calculus and tartar. This initially causes inflammation along the gum line (gingivitis) that can quickly progress into deep infected pockets around the tooth damaging the supporting structures. This results in bad breath, pain, loosening and eventually loss of teeth. Bacteria can spread from the gums into the blood stream and can damage the heart, kidneys and other major organs. This can be associated with a decreased life expectancy.
- Fractured teeth:
Fractured teeth are common in dogs, usually associated with a traumatic injury (hit by car or chewing hard objects like bones). The canine (fang) teeth and the upper 4th premolar (carnassials tooth) are most frequently fractured. If the pulp cavity (nerve) is exposed the tooth is at risk of an infection and forming an abscess. The tooth can either be extracted or a less invasive option is root canal (endodontic treatment). This maintains the structure and function of the tooth without the pain or infection. Root canal is offered at specialist veterinary hospitals.
Malocclusion results when the upper teeth do not align properly with the lower teeth. If the teeth do not align in the correct fashion, this is generally the result of either abnormal jaw growth or misalignment of the teeth themselves. A common malocclusion in the dog is persistent (retained) deciduous (primary) teeth. This is especially common in toy dogs (e.g. Yorkshire Terriers, toy poodles, Chihuahuas). The retained deciduous teeth can force the permanent teeth to erupt in an abnormal direction. The retained deciduous teeth should be extracted, this needs to be performed by a veterinarian. Misaligned teeth will develop excessive plaque and tartar on the abnormal wearing surfaces if not treated.
- Trauma (fractured jaws):
Jaw fractures occur relatively frequently in dogs, commonly associated with trauma (hot by car, fighting, kicks, falls). Depending on the location of the injury and the extent of damage, surgery is usually required to stabilise the fracture. This may require
- Oral tumours
Tumours in the mouth are common, but may not be obvious to the owner initially. Animals often compensate for a sore tooth by eating on the other side or avoiding hard foods. Unfortunately, patients often present when the disease is in the advanced stages. Tumours can either be Benign (don’t spread) or malignant (grow quickly and spread to other organs), because there are so many types of oral tumours all growths in the mouth should be investigated. This requires a biopsy for diagnosis which will determine the prognosis. Veterinary advice is recommended.
Did you know you can brush your dogs teeth? Find out more here.
About the Purina PetCare Advice Centre
The Purina PetCare Advice Centre brings together a team with in-depth knowledge, experience and special interests with the skills to advise about health and nutrition, behaviour, training, socialisation, as well as basic first aid for your cat or dog. Our team of dedicated pet lovers can also provide information about Purina products and services to help you give your pet the best possible care. If you've got a question about any aspect of pet care, then ask the Purina PetCare Advice team.