Dental disease in dogs is one of the most commonly diagnosed diseases. Unfortunately, we see a lot of it via our mobile vet service even in affluent neighborhoods in Houston such as Northwest Crossing, Northside Village, Memorial Park. In fact, maybe more of it because “affluent” pets often get too many treats!
It has been estimated that up to 80% of dogs over the age of 3 have some level of dental disease. Oftentimes, dogs show no signs of their teeth being diseased, which is why annual screening by your veterinarian is so important.
How do I know if my pet has dental disease?
In humans, tooth decay occurs on the crown (the white part the tooth) due to decalcification of enamel, or the outer white part of the tooth. In dogs, tooth decay is rare. Most dental disease in dogs is related to periodontal disease (disease of the gums), and fractured teeth. In dogs with periodontal disease, tartar (mats of bacteria) on the teeth causes the gums to recede around the tooth. In mild cases, the gums appear red and inflamed. In severe cases, the roots of the teeth become exposed, allowing bacteria to track deep into the socket, or hole where the tooth sits, destroying the underlying bone.
If a fracture or chip has occurred, you may be able to see the center of the tooth (or the pulp). The pulp cavity contains sensitive structures like nerves and blood vessels. These fractures are oftentimes painful and sensitive to touch. A chip fracture is not as obvious, as the underling enamel is still intact so the tooth still appears white, but the outer surface is rough instead of being shiny and smooth. The rough, chipped surface of the tooth is more likely to accumulate tartar and cause more severe dental disease at the level of the root of the tooth.
How can I prevent my dog from getting dental disease?
Yes! Every dog is different and accumulates tartar at different rates, but there are some steps you can take at home to help reduce tartar buildup.
#1 – Brush your dog’s teeth daily. There are flavored toothpastes made specifically for dogs which are meant to be swallowed. There are also different types of dog toothbrushes designed to reach the molars in the very back. Some find the rubber finger covers with bristles to be an easier way of brushing their dog’s teeth.
#2 – Some treats and toys are also designed to help reduce or delay tartar build up by physically removing tartar build up on teeth, or by enzyme application to the outside of the teeth.
#3 – Over the counter water additives can be helpful in reducing tartar formation, talk to your veterinarian before administering any of these products to your dog.
What about dry food? Doesn’t that help reduce tartar build up?
There are specific diets meant to mechanically reduce tartar from building on the surface of teeth. However, once bacterial deposits start to accumulate on your dog’s teeth, food alone will not help to reduce tartar formation and a professional dental cleaning will need to be performed.
What happens during a dental cleaning?
Since dogs won’t sit still and open wide to have their teeth cleaned, dental cleanings are performed under general anesthesia. Just like when you go to the dentist, the teeth are first scaled- or cleaned to remove any tartar from the surfaces of the teeth. At Chasing Tails Mobile Veterinary Services, we take full dental radiographs (x-rays) to evaluate the roots of the teeth for any signs of decay. In some cases, teeth are so severely diseases they need to be removed. After any extractions are performed, the teeth are then polished. Oftentimes, an antibiotic gel is applied along the gumline of the teeth to help slow the progression of dental disease in the remaining teeth.
A Mobile Vet Makes House Calls
If you are concerned regarding the status of your dog’s teeth, schedule an appointment today to have them evaluated by a veterinarian. Don’t wait until your dog’s teeth are so painful he won’t eat. The sooner dental disease is caught, the better! Our mobile vet service offers best-in-class veterinary care right here in Houston. Whether you live in Memorial Park, Uptown, Spring Branch East or other areas in Houston, we may service your area. Just call us and we’ happy to tell you how a mobile vet service can provide you with dog and cat dental care right here in Houston. It’s easy!