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nddental disease in dogs

Understanding Dental Disease in Dogs

Dental disease is a common health issue found in dogs. Active dental disease affects 80% of dogs over the age of three. It is very painful for a dog and needs to be treated as soon as possible to keep your dog active and happy. Therefore, it’s vital that you be aware of your dog’s dental health and take necessary action promptly as required. A veterinary dental specialist will be able to treat your dog in this regard. This article provides information on coping with symptoms, and treatment procedures followed when your dog has dental disease. Read this guide on dental disease in dogs.

About Dental Disease In Dogs

Dental disease is a painful condition for dogs. In some cases, it can lead to other health problems like heart disease and kidney failure. Poor dental hygiene is the most common cause of tooth and gum health issues in dogs. It’s also related to age, as it is more common in older dogs due to wear and tear. A poor diet also contributes to dental health problems. 

Some breeds, like Greyhounds, Yorkshire Terriers, Bulldogs, Whippets, Shih Tzus, and Pugs, are more prone to dental disease. It is primarily due to the shape of their mouths, which are either very cramped or narrow.  Brushing your dog’s teeth regularly can help prevent dental health issues in dogs.

How Common Is It?

Active dental disease affects 80% of dogs over the age of three. Only some dogs show obvious signs of having dental disease. Therefore, it’s up to the owners to watch for any signs of pain in their dog and take it to a vet as soon as possible.

Causes Of Dental Disease in Dogs

The main cause of dental disease is dental hygiene. It consists of brushing teeth daily and visiting the vet regularly for oral examinations and teeth cleaning procedures. Dogs accumulate bacteria in their mouths, leading to inflammation of the gums and the breakdown of the structures that hold teeth securely.  Small dog breeds are at high risk of developing dental disease because of the size and shape of their mouths. Particular breeds are at risk of developing periodontal disease, gingivitis, and other dental diseases. For example, Boxers tend to develop gum tissue known as gingival hyperplasia. 

Symptoms Of Dental Disease

Symptoms of dental diseases in dogs include the following:

Plaque And Tartar

Plaque builds up from food, bacteria, and saliva inside the mouth. It collects on the teeth over time and turns into a hard substance called tartar. 

Tartar can cause much damage and harm to teeth by causing inflamed, painful gums or gingivitis. It’s full of bacteria that could cause harm to vital organs like the heart, kidneys, and liver by entering the blood.


Gingivitis is the term used for inflamed gums that are very painful. A buildup of plaque and tartar causes this condition. It then leads to bleeding and increased sensitivity of gums.

Tooth Root Abscesses

Tooth root abscesses are infections around the roots of the teeth that occur when bacteria get underneath the gums. They are very painful and will often result in facial swelling.

Broken Or Cracked Teeth

Teeth are so strong that they hardly crack or break. However, dental disease can take a toll on teeth, making them crack or break down easily. Broken and damaged teeth are vulnerable to infections, so contact the vet immediately. 

brushing your dogs teeth prevents dental disease in dogs
brushing a dogs teeth

Types Of Dental Disease

There are many different types of dental disease that dog owners should be aware of, including the following:

Periodontal disease: refers to inflammation, infection, and breakdown of the structures that hold teeth securely in place. It is a very painful condition and could even lead to tooth loss.

Tooth root infections: In this case, bacteria reach the area under the gums and may form an enclosure of infection around the tooth’s root. Over time, this enclosure expands, causing painful abscesses.

Trauma: chewing on hard toys or playing vigorously with toys could cause tooth damage in dogs. Dental trauma may also occur if a dog is hit by a car or has a fight with another dog.

Gingivitis: Inflammation of the gums or gingivitis could become severe, known as stomatitis or ulcerative stomatitis. It is common in breeds like Boxers, where they develop gingival hyperplasia that leads to an overgrowth of gums.

Growths: Several types of tissue can grow in a dog’s mouth, which could be benign tissues and cancer. Small viral growths named Papilloma resolve on their own, while Melanoma is a type of oral cancer that is severe and aggressive. 

Dog Dental Disease Stages

Periodontal disease progresses in four stages, as given below:

Stage 1

There is minimal tartar buildup at this stage. Swollen and bleeding gums are common at this stage, especially if the dog chews on a hard toy.

Vets recommend a thorough cleaning and regular brushing to reverse the damage caused to teeth and gums at this stage.

Stage 2

There may not be many visual signs of periodontal disease at this stage, but the structures around the teeth become damaged due to inflammation and bacteria.

The vet may perform anesthesia and clean the dog’s teeth at this stage. Addressing the disease at this stage is vital as there is still some hope to reverse the effects.

Stage 3

At this stage of dental disease, a dog will experience permanent bone loss that causes much pain and can lead to tooth loss. 

The vet might recommend tooth extraction due to the pain. A dog’s teeth can still be saved at this stage by conducting advanced dental procedures by a veterinary dental specialist.

Stage 4

A dog’s teeth can’t be saved at this stage as the damage is irreversible. The best thing to do is to extract the teeth to address the pain and reduce the risk of infection and damaging the other teeth.

Teeth tend to fall off on their own at this stage, which could lead to a high risk of infection.

Diagnosing Dog Dental Disease in Dogs

A vet should be able to diagnose any dental issue in a dog by doing a physical examination. This physical exam includes looking inside the dog’s mouth and feeling the mouth, eyes, and nose.

He can feel and detect the lymph nodes at the top of the dog’s neck, which typically become swollen due to dental health issues. However, some issues that are not visible require X-rays or CT scans that show the health of the roots, jaw bones, and other structures. CT scans are useful in identifying cancers and unusual bone growth. 

Treatment For Dog Dental Disease

Treatment for dental disease typically involves cleaning all of the dog’s teeth and extracting diseased ones. Thomas M. Villalpando shares the best vet advice based on his experience and suggests the best treatment for dogs with dental disease. Treatments may also include procedures such as crowns, root canals, and bone grafts that are generally available through specialist veterinary dentists.

The vet will prescribe medication to be taken before and after extraction, such as pain medications and antibiotics. Additionally, CBD for pets is also available for treating pain and inflammation in dogs. This is very helpful if your pet needs extractions. 

How To Prevent Dog Dental Disease

The best way to reduce the risk of dental disease is to brush your dog’s teeth daily. It helps reduce the risk of gingivitis, infections, and tooth decay. Physical brushing of each tooth and gum line is vital for your dog’s dental health. Rub your dog’s teeth and gums with clean gauze daily, which can make a great difference. Regular checkups are also vital to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Some foods and treats like chews can help reduce the risk of dental disease. 


Dental disease can be very painful for dogs. You must take your dog to a vet as soon as you identify symptoms of dental disease in your dog.

These symptoms include bad breath, swelling of the face, weight loss, missing teeth, rubbing the face, inflamed gums, and bleeding.

There are four stages of dental disease; the first three are curable, and the last one leaves irreversible damage to your dog’s teeth. You must take your dog to a vet as soon as you identify the above symptoms. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Dogs Live With Dental Disease?

Not addressing your dog’s dental issues can lead to other health problems all over its body, including the heart, liver, and kidneys.

Can Dog Dental Disease Be Cured?

Dental disease can be treated and reversed in dogs only if detected early. It’s treatable at stages 1,2, & 3 while irreversible at stage 4.

Is Dog Dental Disease Painful?

Yes, dental diseases are very painful for dogs, especially with inflammation of the gums. It can be aggravated with more serious problems like tooth root abscesses, fractured teeth, and oral tumors.  You can give your dog CBD for pain but you should make an appointment with your vet for a full exam to get to the root of the problem. 



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