Canine Dental Health

Why Is Dental Health So Important for your pet dog?

Periodontal disease is the most commonly diagnosed condition in adult dogs. Left untreated, it can lead to serious systemic health issues. Like any other health condition, one of the most powerful weapons an owner has against the progression of this disease is awareness. Remaining diligent and recognizing changes in the appearance of your pets teeth can go along way toward preventing more serious problems.

Periodonititis Affects More Than Just Teeth

Chronic periodontal disease not only affects the structure and function of the teeth, but it can seriously affect overall health. Bacteria associated with severe periodontal disease can enter the blood stream and serve as the source of infection for other organs, including the lungs, kidneys or heart. Some of the areas that periodontal disease can damage are illustrated below.

  • Lungs - Bacteria involved in periodontal disease can be transported to the lungs simply thru aspiration.
  • Heart or Kidneys - Problems with the heart , kidneys, immune system and other organs may occur if the bacteria in the mouth enter the circulatory system, or the blood stream.
  • Liver / Intestines - A painful mouth can lead to lack of proper food intake and possible malnutrition.
  • Immune System - Improper nutrition combined with bacterial infection can reduce your pet's ability to maintain his or her natural immunity.

Cross-section Of A Canine Tooth

Even though you can't see them, there are many areas below the gums that can be affected by dental disease. Gingivitis begins when plaque bacteria invade at the gingival sulcus, or gum line. If left untreated, critical structures (alveolar bone, periodontal ligament and tooth root cementum) below the gum line become involved, signifying the transition to periodontitis. This damage is considered controllable, but not reversible. When not addressed, periodontitis invariably leads to tooth loss.

Canine tooth cross-section

The Damage Of Dental Disease

Canine Plaque
Plaque - is the primary cause of periodontal disease due to its large bacterial component. Plaque forms within hours of cleaning teeth. Left unchecked, plaque can soon cover the entire tooth surface. Regular brushing and the mechanical brushing action of chewing certain dental diets and treats can help in plaque removal.
Canine Calculus
Calculus - is mineralized plaque. It is deposited on the teeth in layers. Chewing action may remove some tarter, but most remains until professionally scaled off in a dental cleaning. Tarter is characterized by a yellowing of the teeth and is often accompanied by bad breath.
Canine Gingivitis
Gingivitis - With gingivitis, the gums become inflamed. You may notice reddening, swelling and bleeding of gums as well as bad breath. At this stage the disease is usually reversible, but can lead to more serious consequences if allowed to progress.
Canine Periodontits
Periodontits - If gingivitis is left untreated, the inflammation will progress to periodontitis. At this stage, the inflammation extends into the deeper connective tissue surrounding the teeth and can result in bone loss. The teeth become loose, painful and eventually fall out or need to be pulled. It can become uncomfortable for pets to eat, so poor nutrition is also a concern.