Reviewed by: Sara Ochoa, DVM
Since dogs have teeth, it’s reasonable to think that they can also get cavities. But is it? The truth is, dogs don’t get cavities the way humans do and there are some very good reasons for that.
In this post, we’ll talk about how rare they are in dogs. That doesn’t mean dogs are out of the woods when it comes to dental problems though. Keep reading and learn more about dental disease in dogs and how it can ultimately impact your dog’s long-term health.
Defining a Cavity
Cavity refers to the infected areas of tooth decay due to the loss of calcium in the tooth coating or the tooth’s enamel.
Cavities are also called dental caries, and they result from erosion of the tooth’s enamel caused by acids in the mouth leaving a carious lesions.
They are the most common dental problem in humans. In dogs, dental problems are triggered by several factors including diet and lack of professional dental cleanings.
Shop the Best Dental Products for Your Dog
Periodontal disease is the most common dental problem or dental disease that dogs face today. Cavities are rare among dogs, but a dog still can have a cavity at some point in its lifetime, sometimes leading to tooth extractions.
Why Dog Cavities are Rare
True dog cavity is an extremely rare condition, unlike dental cavities in humans.
One of the main reasons cavities are so rare in dogs has to do with their diets.
Dog food tends to have low sugar and acid content. Human foods, however, can have high sugar and acid content. This contributes to tooth decay.
Exposing your dog’s teeth to less acid and sugar helps protect them from dental decay.
Minimal exposure to sugars and acids by wild animals also protect them from dental cavities. Secondly, a dog’s tooth structure also helps in lowering their chances of developing tooth problems.
Unlike the flat human teeth, dog teeth are pointy, depriving the oral bacteria of enough space to thrive.
Symptoms of Cavities in Dogs
Dogs may develop cavities at the pit of the upper jaw and lower jaw maxillary molar teeth. The common symptoms of canine cavities include:
• Drooling too much
• Apparent tooth pain
• Dropping food
• Teeth discoloration, especially brown or yellow deposits on the surface of the tooth, close to the gum line.
• Appetite loss
• Dark spots on a tooth
Visit a veterinary dentist if you notice that your dog has some of the symptoms highlighted above.
Timely visits can enhance your pet’s oral health, protecting it from developing into a serious problem that may lead to teeth removal.
Key Causes of Cavities in Dogs
Several factors contribute to the development of cavities in dogs. These include:
• A poor diet with too many fermentable carbohydrates like excessive bread and dog food of low quality.
• Poor oral hygiene leads to plaque buildup that entails the accumulation of food particles, resulting in bad breath.
• Low salivary pH.
• Poor overall health.
• Much gaps between gums and teeth.
• Poorly mineralized tooth coat.
• Poor overall health and tartar buildup.
• Streptococcus mutans.
Prevention of Cavities in Dogs
Pet owners can take the initiative to enhance the dental health of their dogs in several ways.
Brush Dog’s Teeth
Prevent dental problems by brushing your dog’s teeth daily. Use a specially designed doggy toothbrush and be sure to get toothpaste formulated for dogs.
Human toothpaste sometimes has artificial sweeteners like Xylitol which can be deadly for our furry friends.
Special Dental Cleaning Treats
People can also take care of their pet’s teeth by designing special treats intended to clean their teeth, protecting the root of the tooth.
Strengthening Chew Toys
Pet owners can give their dogs chew toys to help strengthen their teeth. However, it is still vital to seek dental care from professionals to get expert help and advice.
When searching for toys for puppies, look for good quality products that won’t break apart in the dog’s mouth.
Risk Factors for Cavities in Dogs
All dogs can develop dental cavities, but some breeds are more susceptible to getting cavities than others. The dogs at great risk of cavities mainly include small dog breeds, including:
• French Bulldog
• Shih Tzu
• English Bulldog
Diagnosis of Cavities in Dogs
It is important to visit a veterinary dentist to diagnose cavities to avoid serious problems later.
Diagnosis of cavities in dogs requires expert knowledge from a veterinarian. The practitioner visually explores the dog teeth and uses sharp objects to tap on possible cavities for clearer observations.
At times, the veterinarian can recommend an x-ray to perceive the extent of the cavities. A dog having cavities could also be having other dental problems, and the veterinarian thus examines for fractured teeth or gum disease.
Stages for Dental Diagnosis
The key stages for diagnosis include:
• Checking whether only enamel is affected.
• The second stage entails checking enamel and possible dentin affected.
• The third stage entails checking the enamel, dentin, and pulp chamber implicated.
• Stage four involves structural crown damage.
• The final stage entails exploring the majority of a crown lost and tooth root exposed.
Treatment of Cavities in Dogs
Cavities treatment depends on the stage of dental diagnosis.
For instance, if a pet owner discovers a cavity before it develops, a veterinarian can use a fluoride bonding agent or a fluoride varnish to counter a tooth cavity and fissure caries.
Such cases are reversible because the fluoride enhances the tooth’s remineralization until it fully restores itself.
For cases when the cavities may have already developed and the dog has caries lesions, chances of reversing it are minimal, and treatment depends on progression.
Need help? No time or money to get to a veterinarian’s office? There’s no need. All you have to do is set up a free account and get instant access to veterinarians. They can answer quick questions you may have.
Those answers could mean the difference between you getting a good night’s sleep versus you worrying all night!
Just click the AskVet link below (in the image) and set up your free online account. Must be over 18.
Stages of Cavity Treatment in Dogs
Below are the key stages of cavities treatment.
First & Second Stage
In the early stages (first and second), the veterinarian dentist removes the carious dentin and enamel around it. However, the dentist restores the crown using an amalgam filling.
Third Stage of Cavity Treatment
The third stage may entail treating endodontic disease, which causes a tooth to die by preventing blood from reaching the root canal.
The treatment for the endodontic disease is a root canal.
This entails complete removal of the infected pulpal tissue and consequent scrubbing and disinfecting of the root canal.
The veterinarian fills the root canal with inert material and restores and fills the crown. It is important to treat the gum disease to prevent it from spreading to the bone.
Fourth & Fifth Stage
The fourth and fifth stages most probably require ultimate teeth removal for rotten teeth.
The veterinarian uses a sealant to protect other teeth from possible cavities in the future after extracting the affected tooth. It could be necessary to treat gum diseases that have already gotten to the bone.
A veterinarian can completely remove the infected tissue and use therapy to enhance the development of new gum tissue.
Also, the dentist may open the gum flap to clean the diseased tissue and reattach it. The strategy used depends on the:
- approximate duration
- bone loss area
Recovery of Dental Cavities in Dogs
If a cavity leads to the extraction of the tooth, the veterinarian gives you follow up appointments to check on the dog’s recovery.
You can also help discern abnormalities by constantly checking up on the dog’s teeth.
Home care For Your Dog’s Teeth
Dentists also recommend that humans be committed to regularly checking on the oral health of their furry friend.
Pet parents should understand their dog’s mouth and dental needs. The following are some ideas on how best to do this:
Observe Your Dog’s Mouth
Look for any changes on the teeth or on the gum line. You may notice the gums tend to bleed or there is discoloration on the teeth. Create a weekly routine to get in the habit.
Use Proper Canine Dental Products
Veterinarians recommend the appropriate dental products for your pets because they cannot use human toothpaste.
Such products include specific toothpaste, treats, dental chews and tooth strengthening toys for your dog.
They can also provide dental cleanings for your dog and prescribe some toys to ensure that the tooth surface is clean, preventing tartar buildup.
It is also important for dog owners to enquire about the most healthy diet or dental diets for small dogs and adult dogs to protect them from tartar build-up and hindering key dental conditions.
Dental cavities can cost a fortune. It’s better to take preventative measures to maintain your dog’s dental health, including regular professional dental cleaning.
Dog’s don’t tend to develop cavities they way humans do. This is mostly due to the type of food they eat. When offered high-quality dog food, our furry companions can maintain their healthy gums and teeth. Over time, aging may affect your dog’s teeth.
Too many human foods as “treats” can be a source of dental problems in dogs. This is because human foods are often high in sugar.
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