Dogs can get cavities just like humans, due to poor oral health and hygiene. Here, our Knightdale vets share tips on how to prevent cavities in dogs and what to do if your pooch has one.
Cavities in Dogs
Dogs develop cavities for the same reasons humans do. Also referred to as caries, cavities are areas of damage on your dog's teeth due to prolonged exposure to bacteria in food. when bacteria sit on the teeth for too long, acid builds up and erodes the outer layers of the tooth, causing damage and decay.
The enamel on your dog's teeth will be destroyed gradually and the root of the tooth will get damaged. In severe cases, this can lead to the tooth loosening, falling out, or needing to be extracted.
While cavities in dogs are relatively rare thanks to the low amount of sugars and acids in most of our canine friends' diets. some dog breeds are more likely to get them than others. Bulldogs, Poodles, Pugs, Chihuahuas, Shih Tzus and Dachshunds are all predisposed to have higher instances of tooth decay.
Signs Your Dog Might Have a Cavity
Detecting the early signs of a developing cavity in your dog's mouth may be difficult before advanced tooth decay happens. That's why it's important for your pooch to see the vet for regular dental checkups.
Bringing your dog or cat in for a dental checkup is like visiting the dentist yourself; the vet will check your dog's oral health, note any cavities, dental issues or abnormalities, and clean the teeth.
Any of these symptoms can indicate a cavity or other oral health issue and you should make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible:
- Tooth discoloration, especially brown or yellow deposits near the gum line
- Lack of appetite
- Excessive drooling
- A dark spot anywhere on the tooth
- Dropping food
- Pain or discomfort in the mouth area
How To Treat Cavities In Dogs
With veterinary dentistry, we can prevent, treat and manage dental issues in pets. When your dog is diagnosed as having a cavity your vet will assess the level of damage the cavity has caused to your pup's 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 crown lost, roots exposed
Treatment of dog cavities depends on what stage of damage your dog's tooth has been diagnosed with.
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, tooth removal will likely be necessary as the damage may be too severe to save the tooth. Your veterinarian will likely use a sealant on the surrounding teeth in order to ensure further cavities do not form.
Preventive Measures You Can Take
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 regular dental care, your vet can also catch any suggest treatment options for any developing oral health issues before they turn into a more serious problem.
There are also at-home measures you can take to help your dog maintain their oral hygiene such as at-home brushing in between vet visits and providing your dog with special chew toys designed to promote plaque removal.
Our vets in Knightdale are always happy to answer any questions you may have about your pet's dental health or care.