The happy-go-lucky behavior of most dogs would make you think they have no health problems at all. That isn’t true because a majority of older dogs suffer from one form or another of gum disease. There might also be other problems with the teeth that make chewing difficult. Dogs don’t always let their masters know there is an oral health problem.
Loose or misaligned teeth in older dogs is a sign of problems (puppies commonly have loose teeth, so there’s no need to get too worried). Loose teeth in an older dog can be a sign of periodontal disease. Malocclusion, misalignment of the jaws, throws the teeth out of line. This is not, however, a major problem unless is affecting the dog’s ability to eat. You don’t put braces on a dog, but if the malocclusion is causing problems a veterinarian will know how to put the teeth back in proper alignment. It may be a situation where the tooth is capped or extracted to relieve the discomfort.
Periodontal disease is a major source of oral discomfort for dogs. It starts out as plaque and then this matures into tartar on the teeth. Gingivitis is something that dogs can suffer from as well as humans. When the tartar slips below the gum line then the dog starts to have swollen gums that are red in color. This condition can develop into periodontal disease and the gums recede. A warning bell about periodontal disease being evident are bleeding gums.
Dogs chew on bones and other hard objects. This type of activity is actually good for the dog’s oral health. Chewing on a metal food bowl is not. It can result in a cracked tooth, and slab fracture is the most common sign of a tooth is broken. A cracked tooth can be a source of extreme pain for an animal because it may expose a nerve. There’s also a health risk with a cracked tooth should it become infected. A tooth root abscess can happen from that infection. A clear sign of this problem for the pet owner is a dog not eating because of the discomfort. Swelling in the face around the eye can also be a warning that there is a root abscess in the dog’s mouth.
A pet owner has to be vigilant in order to prevent serious oral problems. Making sure that the dog is only chewing on soft rubber toys and never on anything made of metal can help prevent cracked teeth from happening. Changes in the dogs eating habits may also suggest there are problems beginning to develop in the mouth. Regular trips to the veterinarian is perhaps the best form of precaution. Inspection of the teeth can be part of the examination. This may include x-rays, but the cost of such procedure is well worth the preventative value. Teeth problems discovered early are ordinarily the ones easiest to fix. Root canals are done on dogs or another procedure, known as a vital pulpotomy, are used to correct broken teeth. Periodontal disease can be arrested and cured with the help of a veterinarian. Just as with young children, a habit of brushing the dog’s teeth at home can help. The brushing is something that a pet owner should begin doing when the dog is still a puppy. It lets the animal get used to the idea of having its owner perform this act of oral hygiene.
A firm warning about neglect can be taken from the pages of human oral hygiene. Gum infections and root obsesses do not always stay in one location. It doesn’t always remain in the oral area, either. The gums of an animal are like humans in that there are a lot of blood vessels crisscrossing under the tissue. Bacterial infection from the teeth can enter into the bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body. It is not incorrect to assume that what began as a case of gingivitis ends up as something that causes heart damage. This possibility of infection spreading is a sound reason for proactive oral health care.
A pet owner has to keep an eye out for oral health problems in the dog. Any medicine or treatments prescribed by the veterinarian have to be taken seriously and acted upon. A healthy dog includes a mouth that is free of gum disease or cracked teeth. Paying attention to the warning signs can stop a problem from becoming a very serious emergency.