It's not uncommon for dog owners to overlook their dog's dental health or question the value of canine dental check-up. After all, animals in the wild don't brush their teeth or visit the dentist, so what would dogs be any different. The problem is dogs tend to be fed very different diets to that which their ancestors would have eaten and how they use their teeth has changed over time, too.
Commercial dog food typically contains cereals and simple carbohydrates that can lead to plaque forming on your dog's teeth if they aren't properly cared for. Many dog owners also love to give their furry friend a treat now and then and treats are often used during training. Additionally, not all dogs have the opportunity to chew on sticks or engage in natural behaviours that clean their teeth.
These factors combined mean that dogs are susceptible to tooth decay and other oral health conditions, so dental check-ups should be a regular part of their healthcare regime. Read on to learn about two common dental health problems vets encounter in dogs.
A cracked tooth may not sound particularly serious, but it can be and should never be left untreated. There are a number of reasons a tooth can develop a crack, such as colliding with another dog during play or biting down on a thick bone or stick. Once the enamel is damaged, bacteria can enter the affected tooth and cause a painful infection to develop. Left untreated, an infected tooth may need to be extracted. However, a cracked tooth can be sealed to prevent bacteria entering the tooth pulp and an infection can resolve with antibiotics without the need to extract the tooth if it's treated early.
Without regular cleaning, plaque can build up on the surface of your dog's teeth and around the gum line. Plaque contains bacteria that can damage the gum tissue and cause inflammation. Dog's with gum disease can find eating painful and tend to drool a lot. Their gums may bleed when they eat or chew a toy and they may paw at their mouth in response to the pain and irritation they are feeling. Without treatment, gum disease can lead to abscesses forming along the gum line or in a tooth socket. Eventually, the tooth root can rot, which means tooth loss is inevitable. Gum disease can be prevented with good oral hygiene practices, but if your dog does develop gum disease it can be treated with professional teeth cleaning techniques and antibiotics when addressed in its early stages.
If you'd like more information on dog dental check-ups, contact your vet.