Cavities in Dogs

Dental health issues in dogs can be just as problematic as they are in people. If you've ever developed a cavity in one or more of your teeth, you know they can be uncomfortable. Dogs can develop cavities too and here, our Edgewater vets explain the causes, symptoms and treatments of cavities in dogs. 

Cavities in Dogs

It's possible for our pups to develop a whole host of different oral health issues if their mouths aren't routinely cared for and cleaned, from gum disease to cavities (also known as tooth decay). 

The Cause of Cavities in Dogs

As our dogs eat, bacteria that naturally live in their mouth consume the leftover food debris residue, which turns into plaque. 

You may recognize plaque as the white substance that adheres to your teeth throughout the day. Plaque is mildly acidic and sticky, gradually eroding the protective outer layers of your dog's teeth over time.

If your dog's mouth is not cleaned properly for an extended period of time, the acidic plaque on their teeth can cause large or small holes in their enamel, known as cavities, tooth decay or dental caries. 

Certain pre-existing conditions in your dog's mouth, as well as a lack of routine cleanings, may increase their risk of developing cavities. This includes:

  • A diet with lots of fermentable carbohydrates (often found in poor-quality dog food or high-carb table scraps)
  • Poor general health
  • Misaligned or crowded teeth in your dog's mouth
  • Gaps between teeth and gums caused by gum recession
  • A low pH level in your dog's saliva
  • Weaker-than-normal tooth enamel (caused by poor mineralization)

The Symptoms of Canine Cavities

Depending on the severity of your dog's cavities, they may feel varying degrees of pain or discomfort from their tooth. Cavities are classified into five stages based on their severity, ranging from 1 (where only your pup's enamel is damaged) to 5 (where the majority of their crown has been lost and their roots are exposed).

Some of the most common symptoms of a dental cavity in a dog include the following:

  • Abnormal chewing, drooling, or dropping food from the mouth 
  • Discolored teeth
  • Noticeable Tartar buildup
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Bad breath 
  • Reduced appetite or refusal to eat 
  • Pain or swelling in or around the mouth

For some pups, the pain and discomfort of a cavity is enough to stop them from eating enough (or eating altogether). If you notice any of the above symptoms, bring your dog to your Edgewater vet for a dental checkup and treatment as soon as possible.

Treatments for Your Dog's Cavity

There are two broad types of treatment for cavities in dogs: professional treatment of existing cavities and preventive treatment of cavities early in their development, or before they appear in your pup in the first place.

Restorative Dental Treatment For a Canine Cavity

The precise treatment for your dog's cavity will be determined by its severity. If you caught a cavity just as it was beginning to form, your veterinarian may use a fluoride wash or bonding agent to protect the site from further degradation and will monitor it in the future.

If your four-legged friend's cavity has progressed any further, the diseased enamel, dentin, or pulp must be removed and the tooth restored with a filling, root canal, or other restorative procedure. If the cavity has progressed far enough (to stages 4 or 5), the tooth may not be truly treatable and must be extracted from your dog's mouth to prevent further deterioration of their oral health.

Recovery from filling or tooth removal treatment is usually quick, but you may need to provide specialized after-care for your dog to keep them from damaging their mouth or new filling.

Routine Care to Prevent Cavities

The most reliable way to preserve your dog's dental and overall health, as well as fight cavities, is to maintain a regular routine of oral hygiene care at home, using specialized toothbrushes and toothpaste in textures and tastes designed specifically for dog mouths.

In addition to at-home oral health care, make sure your dog visits our Edgewater veterinarians at least once a year for a professional dental exam and cleaning. This will allow us to perform a more thorough hygiene cleaning of your dog's teeth as well as detect cavities as they begin to form and when they can be prevented.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Have you noticed any of the listed symptoms of cavities in your dog? Bring them to the vets at Animal General today to have them checked, cleaned and treated for any oral health issues.