Dogs Small furry Sheltie laying with food that helps clean teeth,  a toothbrush in front for  dog dental care

Published on April 12th, 2017 | by Debbie Martin


Dogs Dental Care

Dogs use their mouth for much more than eating, such as to play and to carry, this is why it is so important that their mouths are kept healthy and dental care is made a priority. There can be a number of problems with your dog’s teeth and gums if there are not properly cared for such as gum disease, fractured teeth, and discoloured teeth.

Gum Disease:

Gum disease is very serious in dogs as it can lead to teeth becoming loose and possibly extracted. Gum disease is caused by a build-up of plaque and eventually infection and inflammation around the root of the tooth. When plaque first starts to build up it can turn into gingivitis which causes inflammation to the gums; this will also cause tartar to build up and because of the rough surface of tartar, it only makes it easier for more plaque to build up. As gum disease comes about, there is destructions of the tooth attachment and the gums. In some cases, the gum will recede so much as to that the root of the tooth will be visible.

Some signs of gum disease to look out for include:

  • bad breath
  • red, inflamed or bleeding gums
  • loose teeth
  • tartar build up
  • changes in eating behaviour such as preference to one side of the mouth or eating harder foods more carefully
  • changes in overall behaviour such as being less active or open to playing

If you notice any of these, you can ask your vet to check your dog’s oral care.human hand cleaningeth with brush

To prevent gum disease, dog’s teeth should be checked by a vet routinely and a proper oral care regime should be put in place. Specially designed treats can be given to your dog which will reduce the build-up of tartar as the texture of the treat will act as a brush when the dog chews. Tooth brushing can be introduced slowing into your oral health routine, the back teeth should be focused on first once your dog is used to the taste of the toothpaste and being handled. The front of the mouth is also more sensitive so this can be brushed once your dog is more comfortable and then the time spent brushing can also be increased. It is easiest and most effective to introduce teeth brushing into your dog’s daily routine when still a puppy. Your dog should visit the vet at least once a year and then again if you have any concerns to ensure the best dental health.

Fractured Teeth:

Be aware of what toys your dog plays because things such as bones, sticks and hard chews can cause teeth to be fractured. Along with twisting when holding onto something, catching something which is too hard, or having collisions. If a fracture exposes the nerve inside the tooth, then this can cause a lot of pain to the dog. It can also mean that the tooth may need to be extracted.

Worn Teeth:

When dogs chew on things excessively then they can create their teeth to become worn, over a long time it can result in the soft tissue inside the tooth becoming exposed. This is seen by a small black hole and this will mean the tooth requires treatment which is usually extraction. Tennis balls are surprisingly abrasive and if your dog plays a lot on the beach, sand covering toys can cause additional abrasion.

Discoloured Teeth:

Discoloured teeth are usually caused by the soft tissue inside the tooth being traumatised without any breaking of the tooth. The colour of these teeth can range from dark yellow to deep pink, they will be painful for the dog as the soft tissue becomes inflamed. The same activities which cause fractured teeth, can cause this discolouration and trauma to the internal soft tissue.

Luxated Teeth:

Teeth can become loosened and dislodged to become luxated (displaced). Luxation usually occurs when the dog puts a sideways force on the tooth such as by pulling a tug toy. It can also occur during play fighting if the tooth gets caught on another dog’s collar. This may also create tears in the gum and the tissue damage will make it very painful for the dog. The canines are most at risk especially in dogs with long muzzles.

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About the Author

Debbie Martin has worked at Beeston Animal Health for over five years, having previously worked as a nurse in equine and small animal practice. Although generally involved with aspects of marketing these days and putting her psychology degree to good use, she still has a great depth of up to date knowledge in all creatures great and small. Debbie lives at home with her partner and two children and spends much of her spare time looking after her horses, dogs and cats or at the home farm with the cows, sheep and turkeys.

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