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Cavities in Dogs

It is possible for dental health problems to be just as problematic in dogs as they are in those of people. If you have ever had a cavity in one or more of your teeth, you are aware of how uncomfortable it can be to have one or more cavities. In this article, our Villa Rica veterinarians discuss the causes of cavities in dogs, as well as the symptoms and treatments that are available for these dental problems.

Cavities in Dogs

If our puppies' mouths are not properly cared for and cleaned on a regular basis, they run the risk of developing a wide variety of oral health problems, ranging from gum disease to cavities, which are also known as tooth decay. These problems can be prevented by making sure that their mouths are cleaned and cared for properly.

The Cause of Cavities in Dogs

During the process of eating, the bacteria that are already present in our dogs' mouths consume the residue of food debris that is left behind, which eventually forms plaque. 

Plaque is identified as the white substance that adheres to your teeth throughout the day. You may be familiar with this substance. Your dog's teeth will gradually lose their protective outer layers over time as a result of plaque, which is a mildly acidic and sticky substance.

The acidic plaque that is on your dog's teeth can cause cavities, tooth decay, or dental caries if they are not properly cleaned for an extended period of time. Cavities can be large or small holes in the enamel of your dog's teeth. 

Having certain pre-existing conditions in your dog's mouth, in addition to not having them get their teeth cleaned on a regular basis, may increase the likelihood that they will develop cavities. This includes the following:

  • 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

There is a possibility that your dog will experience varying degrees of pain or discomfort from their tooth, depending on the severity of the cavities that they have. The severity of cavities is measured on a scale that ranges from 1 (where only your dog's enamel is damaged) to 5 (where the majority of their crown has been lost and their roots are exposed). Cavities are classified into five stages based on their severity.

The following is a list of some of the most common symptoms that can be observed in a dog that has a dental cavity:

  • 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 Villa Rica vet for a dental checkup and treatment as soon as possible.

Treatments for Your Dog's Cavity

There are two broad types of treatment for cavities in dogs: professional treatment of existing cavities and preventive treatment of cavities early in their development, or before they appear in your pup in the first place.

Restorative Dental Treatment For a Canine Cavity

The precise treatment for your dog's cavity will be determined by its severity. If you caught a cavity just as it was beginning to form, your veterinarian may use a fluoride wash or bonding agent to protect the site from further degradation and will monitor it in the future.

If your four-legged friend's cavity has progressed any further, the diseased enamel, dentin, or pulp must be removed and the tooth restored with a filling, root canal, or other restorative procedure. If the cavity has progressed far enough (to stages 4 or 5), the tooth may not be truly treatable and must be extracted from your dog's mouth to prevent further deterioration of their oral health.

In most cases, the recovery time following a tooth extraction or filling is relatively short; however, it is possible that you will need to provide your dog with specialized aftercare in order to prevent them from damaging their mouth or the new filling.

Routine Care to Prevent Cavities

The most reliable way to preserve your dog's dental and overall health, as well as fight cavities, is to maintain a regular routine of oral hygiene care at home, using specialized toothbrushes and toothpaste in textures and tastes designed specifically for dog mouths.

In addition to at-home oral health care, make sure your dog visits our Villa Rica veterinarians at least once a year for a professional dental exam and cleaning. This will allow us to perform a more thorough hygiene cleaning of your dog's teeth as well as detect cavities as they begin to form and when they can be prevented.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Have you noticed any of the listed symptoms of cavities in your dog? Bring them to the vets at Villa Rica Animal Hospital today to have them checked, cleaned and treated for any oral health issues. 

New Patients Welcome

Villa Rica Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Villa Rica companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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