Sneaky culprits causing canine dental cavities – Explore the chew-ses and more!

Like humans, pets are also susceptible to dental diseases. While pet dental care is often overlooked, a consistent routine is required for optimal health and well-being. However, dental issues such as cavities develop when dental care is ignored. If you are wondering how can dogs get cavities, keep reading to learn the causes and treatment options of canine dental cavities.

The Root Causes of Canine Cavities

  • Food particles can accumulate on your pet’s teeth after meals. Bacteria feed on these particles and transform them into plaque. Plaque can be recognized as a white substance that sticks to teeth. Although it is sticky and mildly acidic, plaque can gradually erode the outer layers of a dog’s teeth. While dog owners may not consider their older dog’s bad breath as out of the ordinary, it is, in fact, a warning sign of dental issues.

When left uncleaned for extended periods, acidic plaque can grow on a dog’s teeth, forming small or large holes in the enamel, commonly known as tooth decay, dental caries, or cavities. Factors such as gaps between teeth and gums, weakened tooth enamel, crowded or misaligned teeth, a diet rich in fermentable carbohydrates, and a low saliva pH level can elevate your dog’s cavity development risk. Regular cleaning and addressing pre-existing conditions are crucial to mitigating this risk.

Signs of Canine Cavities

  • Although canine cavities are relatively uncommon, certain breeds show a higher susceptibility. Pugs, Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, Bulldogs, Poodles, and Shih Tzus have a greater likelihood of tooth decay. The discomfort experienced by your dog due to cavities can vary in intensity.

Veterinarians use a severity scale of 1 to 5 to assess the damage from minimal enamel impairment (stage 1) to extensive crown loss with exposed roots (stage 5).

Look out for these common symptoms associated with tooth cavities:

  • Noticeable tartar buildup
  • Unusual drooling, chewing, or difficulty in holding food
  • Bad breath
  • Discolored teeth
  • Pain or swelling in or around the mouth
  • Reduced appetite or refusal to eat
  • Bleeding from the mouth

Cavity-related pain can lead to decreased food intake or food refusal in some dogs. If you observe any of these signs, prompt veterinary attention is crucial for a dental checkup and timely treatment.

Treating Your Dog’s Cavities

  • Treatment for canine cavities falls into two main categories: addressing existing cavities professionally and preventing their development in the first place.

Restorative Dental Treatment

  • To prevent further degradation, fluoride wash or bonding agents may be applied for early-stage cavities.
  • Advanced cavities may require the removal of diseased enamel, dentin, or pulp, followed by restoration through fillings, root canals, or other restorative treatments.
  • In severe cases (stages 4 or 5), the affected tooth may be irreversibly damaged, necessitating removal to prevent further oral health complications.
  • Recovery from filling or tooth removal procedures is typically fast. However, specialized after-care may be needed to prevent harm to the treated area.

Routine Care to Prevent Cavities

  • canine dental cavitiesConsistent at-home oral hygiene, using specialized toothbrushes and toothpaste designed for dogs, is the most effective way to protect your dog’s dental and overall health and combat cavities.
  • Regular professional dental exams and cleanings at a veterinary clinic at least once a year enable early detection and prevention of cavities.
  • Maintaining this dental care regimen ensures your dog’s lasting oral well-being and helps prevent the onset of cavities.

For professional teeth cleaning of your pet, book an appointment with Autumn Trails and Veterinary Center. We perform various dental services to help keep your pet’s mouth looking and feeling great. We are located in Charlottesville, VA. Appointments are conveniently available; call us at (434) 971-9800.