Symptoms and care for canine dental disease
Dental disease is one of the most common problems that dogs have. Up to 85% of dogs over the age of three years usually have some degree of tartar and gingivitis. The symptoms that owners notice most frequently include:
- Bad Smelling Breath or Halitosis
- Bleeding of the Gums
- Blood on chew toys after a dog chews
- As the progression of gingivitis and dental disease progress and become more severe, other symptoms will surface. These include:
- Denying to Eat
- Difficulty in chewing or picking up hard foods
- Discomfort when opening mouth
- Enlarged lymph nodes under the jaw
- Swelling under the eyes
- Severe dental disease can affect other vital organs of the body as the bacteria can spread to the heart, kidneys and brain.
The Veterinary Visit " Diagnosis and Treatment of Dental Disease
Diagnosis of dental disease is based on physical examination. By opening a dogs mouth and examining its teeth, it is easy to tell whether or not calculus and gingivitis are present. While calculus and gingivitis above the gum are easy to diagnose, tartar accumulation and infection below the gum line cannot be diagnosed with a physical examination. They are usually diagnosed with x-rays of the jaw. Normally this is done during treatment because it requires general anesthesia.
To treat tartar buildup and gingivitis, your dog will need a professional veterinary cleaning. Performed as an outpatient procedure, it is simple and easy, but does require general anesthetic.
While a dog is under anesthesia, the teeth are cleaned and polished in the same manner that a human dentist cleans and polishes peoples teeth. The teeth are cleaned both above and below the gum line.
When severe dental disease is present, a veterinarian will perform x-rays while the dog is under sedation in order to check for severe infection or abscesses. This allows the veterinarian to determine if a tooth or teeth must be pulled. In most cases, dogs do very well after tooth extraction and can still enjoy solid food.
In some cases, owners may wish to not have teeth pulled. In this case, it is wise to see a board certified veterinary dentist. Root canals and other procedures may be done which might salvage a broken or infected tooth.
Preventing Dog Dental Disease
The best way to prevent tartar accumulation and gingivitis is with daily brushing. Use special toothpaste made only for dogs along with a soft toothbrush when brushing your dogs teeth. Do not use human toothpaste as it was not meant to be swallowed and foams too much. The video below contains a detailed description of how to brush your dogs teeth.