Just like their human companions, dogs can develop dental cavities as a result of sub-par oral hygiene. Today, our Franklin vets offer tips on how to prevent cavities in dogs and what to do if your dog has one.
Cavities In Dogs
Cavities occur for the same reasons in dogs as in dogs. or the same reason in both humans and dogs. They are areas of damage on the teeth caused by the prolonged exposure to the bacteria found in food. When the bacteria sit on the teeth for a long time they cause acid to build up which eats away at the outer layers of the tooth causing decay and damage.
Over time the enamel on your dog's tooth will be completely destroyed and the root of the tooth will be damaged. In severe cases this will result in the tooth falling out or needing to be extracted.
Dogs eat few foods containing sugars and acids, so cavities develop fairly infrequently. Despite this, there are some breeds that are predisposed to higher chances of developing dental cavities:
- Shih Tzus
Signs Your Dog Could Have A Cavity
It can be difficult to spot the early signs of cavity development before it causes advanced tooth decay. This is why it's important for your pup to visit the vet for regular dental checkups.
If you notice any of the following symptoms it could be an indication of a cavity or another oral health issue and you should make an appointment with your vet right away:
- Excessive drooling
- A dark spot anywhere on the tooth
- Discomfort or pain in the mouth area
- Tooth discoloration,
- Dropping food
- Lack of appetite
How To Treat Cavities In Dogs
If your dog is diagnosed with a cavity your vet will assess the level of damage the cavity has caused the tooth. There are 5 stages of damage:
Stage 1: Only enamel affected
Stage 2: Enamel and dentin affected
Stage 3: Enamel, dentin, and pulp chamber affected
Stage 4: Structural crown damage
Stage 5: Majority of tooth crown lost, roots exposed
The treatment used to address cavities in your dog will depend on the stage of damage
For a stage 1 or 2 diagnosis, the enamel surrounding the cavity will be removed and the crown will be restored with an amalgam filling.
For a Stage 3 dog tooth cavity, your dog will undergo a root canal procedure, similar to what happens with humans, in which the root canal will be disinfected and scrubbed and then filled. The procedure will finish with the restoration and sealing of the crown.
If your dog has been diagnosed with a Stage 4 or 5 cavity, it's likely that the tooth will need to be removed if is too damaged to be saved. Your veterinarian will likely use a sealant on the surrounding teeth in order to ensure further cavities do not form.
Preventing Dental Cavities In Your Dog
Regular dental visits to your vet are key when it comes to maintaining your dog's oral hygiene and preventing cavities. When you bring your dog in for routine dental cleanings your vet has an opportunity can also catch any developing oral health issues and suggest treatment options before they turn into a more serious problem.
At home, there are some steps you can take to help to maintain your dog's optimal oral hygiene: brushing your dog's teeth, giving your dog chew toys specially designed for removing plaque, and giving them vet-approved dental treats.
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 pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.