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Common Teeth Problems in Dogs
Catching dental problems early will help to avoid severe dental diseases. The best and most effective way to avoid teeth and mouth problems is regular teeth cleaning and observation. It’s important to monitor the overall health of your dog teeth from time to time – to inspect your dog’s teeth and gums, gently lift the lips up around his mouth.
Your veterinarian will also check your dog’s teeth during regular examinations, so be sure to keep up with appointments and always contact your veterinarian if you suspect any dental problems in your dog.
Dog Teeth Chattering
The most obvious reason a dog will chatter its teeth is because he is cold. But sometimes dog teeth chattering, usually accompanied with shivering, is a sign of a behavioral or medical disorder.
As long as he/she does not seem to be in pain, dog teeth chattering is usually not a health concern. You should regularly check your dog’s teeth for breaks or cracking if he has a tendency to chatter.
The most serious case of teeth chattering in dogs is usually caused by focal motor seizures. These seizures will cause short bouts of teeth chattering.
The size of your dog could also be the reason for teeth chattering. Small dogs are known to chatter their teeth when they are nervous or excited, but there is no known reason as to why they do this.
If your dog has dental disease like swollen or bleeding gums, he may chatter his teeth out of pain. Always check your dog’s teeth and mouth if you notice him chattering out of habit.
Sometimes teeth chattering can simply be from excitement or out of habit. Be sure to check your dog’s teeth to ensure teeth chattering is not affecting the wear of his teeth.
If there are no other symptoms along with teeth chattering, there are usually no serious health problems. If your dog gets a cracked tooth, be sure to take him to the veterinarian to have it taken care of to ensure it does not lead to gum disease and other health concerns.
Dog Teeth Grinding
Dog teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is a common sign of oral pain. Gums are usually inflamed, so if you notice your dog is grinding his teeth, check for red, sore looking gums. Teeth grinding can be accompanied by a grating noise, but not always.
Teeth grinding is usually caused by misaligned teeth. Upset stomach or pain is also common symptoms of bruxism. This is normally accompanied by vomiting, shaking or fever and appetite loss. Much like humans, stress can also cause teeth grinding in dogs. If your dog has recently had a dental surgery for a tooth removal, or even a sore in his mouth, teeth grinding may occur from the pain.
Depending on the cause of teeth grinding, there are a few different treatments. If the problem has to do with stress or neurological disorders, anti-anxiety medications or therapy may be required to ease the tension that causes teeth grinding.
Veterinarians often recommend consulting a canine dental specialist for treating bruxism. A full examination will determine the cause of teeth grinding and depending on the severity, your dog may require surgery to correct misaligned teeth. If bruxism is caused by an upset stomach, the treatment of the ailment usually cures teeth grinding as well.
Rotten teeth can be described in a few different ways. Some people describe rotten teeth as teeth with extreme plaque build up. Actual rotten teeth are teeth that are eroded and in extremely bad condition. Usually these teeth need to be medically removed. Rotten teeth can cause gum and mouth infections, which can migrate to vital organs and cause serious health concerns.
The most obvious cause for rotten teeth in dogs is poor oral hygiene. Sometimes age has to do with rotting teeth, as older teeth can be more difficult to clean. Older dogs have lower immune systems and therefore can contract things like gum disease easier than younger dogs.
Usually rotten teeth requires surgery to be removed. It is important to get rid of any rotten teeth in your dog’s mouth as soon as possible to avoid any bacterial infections. Your veterinarian will likely perform a blood test to determine any other problems your dog may have before putting him under for surgery.
If your dog simply has an extreme build up of tartar, a visit to a dental professional to have his teeth professionally cleaned. After that, you can keep up on your dog’s oral care to avoid a serious case of rotten teeth.
It is normal for puppies between the ages of four or five months to begin losing their baby teeth. Puppies get 28 baby teeth between the ages of 3 to 6 weeks. Normal teeth come in to replace these baby teeth, and they should be permanent for the rest of your dog’s life. If your dog loses any permanent teeth, this could be a sign of dental problems.
Receding gums from disease is a common factor in tooth loss. When plaque and tartar accumulates on your dog’s teeth, swollen and inflamed gums may cause the teeth to bleed. If this problem is not treated, it can lead to receding gum lines and the ligaments which hold the teeth in may become damaged, eventually causing the teeth to fall out.
Fractured or damaged teeth from trauma is the number one cause of teeth loss. Many things can cause a tooth to become loose or knocked out, such as chewing on hard toys or bones, or being hit by a hard, large object. Sometimes the tooth may need to be extracted by a professional if it is not completely knocked out.
Dental care is the number one way to avoid oral disease causing teeth to fall out. Prevent tooth disease by regularly cleaning your dogs teeth. Talk to your veterinarian about best tooth care practices.
Tartar/Plaque Buildup on Teeth
Plaque and tartar act as a breeding ground for bacteria. The longer it gets ignored, the more health problems become a concern. Tartar build up can lead to gum disease. A huge red flag for gum disease is when the gums start to bleed. Bleeding gums act as a direct line for the bacteria from plaque to enter the blood stream and infect other organs in your dog’s body.
Tartar and plaque build up is caused by food particles and bacteria collecting along the gum line and in and around the teeth. When the teeth are not cleaned regularly, plaque mixes with minerals in the dog’s saliva to form tartar.
Tartar irritates the gums and causes inflammation, which is called gingivitis. Plaque and tartar together cause bad breath and can be quite a chore to get rid of once it builds up.
Plaque and tartar can be controlled, but where to start begins with the condition of your dog’s teeth. If you have an older dog, and haven’t had his teeth checked in awhile, the tartar and plaque build up can be difficult to treat at home. Treating puppies can be easiest, as you can begin a cleaning regime after they lose their baby teeth.
Usually, a trip to the veterinarian is required to perform an oral exam and a deep teeth and gums cleaning. After that, keeping up with oral care at home is much easier. Brushing your dog’s teeth once a week can protect your dog’s teeth gums and prevent plaque and tartar build up.
If tartar is not removed, it builds up under the gums. It creates holes, or pockets under the gums which creates more room for bacteria growth. Unfortunately, at this point the damage is irreversible. This is called “periodontal” disease.
Periodontal disease is caused by extreme tartar build up from foods and bacteria. It can also be caused by general poor health, over crowded teeth, poor diet or dogs that groom themselves excessively, causing hair to be imbedded in their teeth and gums.
If your dog’s teeth are neglected for a long period of time, periodontal disease may occur. It can be extremely painful and lead to tooth loss, abscesses, infection and bone loss. As it continues to worsen, bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause infection in the heart valves, kidneys and liver.
There are four grades of Periodontal disease:
- Grade one – Inflammation
- Grade two – Inflammation, edema, bleeding upon contact or probing
- Grade three – Inflammation, edema, bleeding upon contact, discharge, slight or moderate bone loss
- Grade four – Inflammation, edema, bleeding upon contact, lots of discharge, tooth loss and severe bone loss
Periodontal disease cannot be treated at home. It requires a veterinarian to treat with special tools and procedures. Treatment depends on the severity (or grade) of the problem. Your veterinarian will perform a series of tests and blood work to determine the health of your dog and the risks of any medical procedures.