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Canine Dental Disease

Canine Dental Disease

Dental disease is one of the most common medical conditions seen by veterinarians. Over 80% of dogs over the age of three have active dental disease.

Few dogs show obvious signs of dental disease, so it is up to the dog’s family and veterinarian to uncover this hidden and often painful condition.


Gingivitis is a condition in which the gums around the teeth become inflamed (red, swollen, and painful). This inflammation is usually the result of a process that begins with the buildup of plaque, a film that harbors bacteria, on the teeth. If managed correctly Gingivitis is reversable. 


Red or swollen gums
Bad breath
Difficulty eating or not eating at all
Difficulty picking up toys 
Plaque build-up on the surface of teeth


Bad dental care
Old age
Autoimmune diseases
Soft food
Crowded teeth


The best way to prevent gingivitis in dogs is to regularly remove plaque buildup by tooth brushing. 


Treatment of gingivitis involves removing accumulated plaque and dental calculus, then extracting loose or infected teeth to prevent further disease progression. Regular dental care and medical management are typically the first lines of treatment.


If gingivitis is not controlled, it can progress to periodontitis, a condition that eventually cannot be reversed. Periodontal disease, commonly known as gum disease, is a condition that occurs when there is an excessive amount of plaque build-up on your pup’s teeth. If plaque (a thin, sticky film of bacteria) isn’t regularly removed, it can harden into a substance called calculus or tartar that becomes more difficult to remove.

Tartar buildup causes pockets to form between your dog’s teeth and gum line where infection can develop. If gum disease isn’t treated eventually your dog’s teeth can become loose and fall out.


Dropping food
Excess drooling or blood in drool
Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
Bleeding around the mouth
Swelling or pain in or around the mouth
Bad breath
Discoloured teeth
Loose or broken teeth
Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
Chewing on one side


Diet and poor nutrition can factor into whether your dog will develop periodontal disease, as do environmental contributors such as grooming habits (does your pooch lick himself frequently?), dirty toys, the alignment of teeth (pups with crowded teeth are more susceptible to gum disease), and oral hygiene.


To treat canine periodontitis, your veterinarian will recommend removing plaque and mineral buildup by scaling and polishing the teeth while trying to save the teeth wherever possible. In extreme cases of periodontitis, extraction of teeth, sometimes of numerous teeth, may be required

Common Dog Dental Issues


With periodontal disease, the open space around the tooth roots can become filled with bacteria, leading to an infection. This infection can cause a good deal of pain for your dog and can result in a tooth root abscess.


Dogs love to chew! However, as a pet parent, you should be aware that chewing on certain items, such as bones or very hard plastic can cause your pup’s teeth to fracture or break. Tooth fractures are also more likely when your dog is chewing on an object that is too big for its mouth.


All puppies have baby teeth (also called deciduous teeth). In most situations, these teeth will fall out by the time your dog reaches 6 months of age. However, in some cases, some of the teeth will remain. This can cause over-crowding which can result in extra plaque buildup and make it more difficult to keep your pup’s mouth clean.

Prevention Is Key

Ways to care for your cat’s teeth and help prevent dental disease:

Brushing Teeth 
Regular dental checks with your vet
Oral hygiene gels 
Dental products and diets 

If you require any help, support and advice regarding your cat’s oral hygiene we do have a dental nurse clinic available to discuss all your options with you. 


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