We emphasize good pet dental care because periodontal disease is irreversible and progressive. The good news is that with a dedicated dental care routine, this disease is entirely preventable.
There is another facet of pet dental care that requires an added layer of vigilance, however. Dental cavities in dogs are a known phenomenon but because they aren’t as common, dog owners may be surprised to know they’re actually a risk.
Learning the Language
Cavities occur when oral bacteria ferments carbohydrates. This process results in an increase of enamel-destroying acids in the mouth. Decay is most common in the molars due to the additional stress caused by grinding food.
Dental cavities in dogs range from mild to severe. Depending on the case, both enamel and dentin may be decaying. Surgical dental extraction is often necessary if the pulp is exposed, inflamed, or infected. You may notice tooth discoloration when a cavity is present, bad breath, and you might be able to feel a place on the tooth for food to build up or get stuck.
A canine cavity or lesion can become very painful if left alone, and will eventually cause the death of a tooth.
A Look at the Numbers
Periodontal disease affects more than half of all adult pets; dental cavities in dogs occur about 5% of the time. This relatively low percentage is because of the conical shape of their teeth as well as fewer fermentable sugars in canine diets. Avoiding high-carb snacks can help keep those numbers low.
Cavities in Dogs
Veterinary dental exams and digital radiographs are critical in detecting and diagnosing dental cavities in dogs. When lesions are noticed early on, intervention is more successful and teeth can be saved.
Teeth with unexposed pulp can be restored to previous, normal function. This involves removing decayed tissue and placing a composite material and sealant over the lesion. Post-operative care is critical, and routine exams will help prevent further decay.
What You Can Do
We encourage you to maintain your dog’s dental care at home with daily brushing, and professional dental exams and cleanings at least once a year. A specially-designed dental rinse can help lower oral bacteria levels and keep tartar from accumulating (ask us for more details).
Dental cavities in dogs tend to occur more commonly in animals that have a lower salivary pH, and that regularly consume a diet of fermentable carbohydrates. We can help you find a balanced diet for your dog. Routine dental care exams can also reveal whether pets have insufficiently mineralized enamel.
The best way to counteract dental cavities in dogs is to have their teeth and gums routinely examined by our staff. Because your dog’s dental health is so important to their overall wellness and longevity, we hope you’ll contact us with any questions.