Dental problems in dogs can be as troublesome as in humans. If you've had a toothache, you can release the discomfort. Dogs can also get cavities and our Mahopac vets explain the causes, symptoms, and treatments of cavities in dogs.
Cavities in Dogs
Our dogs can develop various oral health problems if we don't regularly care for and clean their mouths, including gum disease and cavities(tooth decay).
The Cause of Cavities in Dogs
In both humans and dogs, when they eat, bacteria naturally live in their mouths consume leftover food particles, and convert them into plaque.
You might recognize plaque as the white substance that sticks to your teeth over the course of the day. Plaque is mildly acidic and quite sticky, slowly eating away at the protective outer layers of your dog's teeth over time (as well as causing the mild-to-severe bad breath we often think of as normal more middle-aged or senior dogs).
If you don't clean your dog's mouth regularly, the acidic plaque can eventually create holes in their enamel, leading to cavities, tooth decay, or dental caries.
Certain pre-existing conditions in your pup's mouth may make them more likely to develop cavities in addition to a lack of routine cleanings. These include:
- A diet with lots of fermentable carbohydrates (often found in poor-quality dog food or high-carb table scraps)
- Poor general health
- Misaligned or crowded teeth in your dog's mouth
- Gaps between teeth and gums caused by gum recession
- A low pH level in your dog's saliva
- Weaker-than-normal tooth enamel (caused by poor mineralization)
The Symptoms of Canine Cavities
Depending on how bad your dog's cavities are, they may feel different amounts of pain or discomfort due to their tooth problems. Cavities are rated on a scale of 5 stages to describe their severity, from 1 (where only your pup's enamel has been damaged) to 5 (where the majority of their crown has been lost and their roots are exposed).
Here are some common symptoms of dental cavities in dogs:
- Abnormal chewing, drooling, or dropping food from the mouth
- Discolored teeth
- Noticeable Tartar buildup
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Bad breath
- Reduced appetite or refusal to eat
- Pain or swelling in or around the mouth
For some pups, the pain and discomfort of a cavity is enough to stop them from eating enough (or eating altogether). If you notice any of the above symptoms, bring your dog to your Mahopac vet for a dental checkup and treatment as soon as possible.
Treatments for Your Dog's Cavity
There are two broad categories of treatment that can be applied to cavities in dogs: professional treatment of existing cavities and preventive treatment of cavities early in their development or before they have a chance to arise in your pup in the first place.
Restorative Dental Treatment For a Canine Cavity
The treatment for your dog's cavity will depend on its severity. If caught early, your vet may use fluoride or bonding to protect it and monitor it.
If your four-legged friend's cavity has progressed any further than that, the diseased enamel, dentin, or pulp will need to be removed and the tooth restored with a filling, root canal, or other restorative treatment. If the cavity has progressed far enough (to stages 4 or 5), the tooth may not be truly treatable and may have to be removed from your pup's mouth to prevent further degradation of their oral health.
Recovery is usually quick, but you may need to provide special care to prevent mouth injury.
Routine Care to Prevent Cavities
The most effective method for preserving your dog's dental and overall health, and combatting cavities, is to practice at-home oral hygiene consistently. Utilize specialized toothbrushes and toothpaste designed for dog mouths in textures and flavors tailored for them.
In addition to at-home oral health care, make sure you bring your pup to our Mahopac vets at least once each year for a professional dental exam and cleaning treatment. This will give us an opportunity to conduct a more thorough hygiene cleaning of your dog's teeth as well as to detect cavities as they are just starting to develop and when they can be prevented.