How do I know if my dog has dental problems?

Any of the following might be indicators of dental disease: offensive breath, nasal discharge, face pawing or rubbing, decreased interest in chews, head-shyness, increased passiveness or aggression. These could be indicators of periodontal disease, trauma or misaligned upper and lower teeth.

A simple extraction involves breaking down the ligament that attaches a tooth’s root to the bone and removing the tooth with forceps. This is generally done when there is already bone loss due to existing periodontal disease. With a tooth that needs to be surgically removed, an incision is made on the gums over the tooth, a flap is created, healthy bone is taken from the tooth’s side and then the tooth is removed. Following a tooth extraction, dogs should be fed soft foods and given pain medications for three to five days.

A root canal (endodontic therapy) involves removing the tooth’s contents—nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue—and then sealing the tooth. This is frequently done with fractured teeth.
What is most commonly seen is a buildup of plaque (hardened bacteria), which causes an infection of the gums leading to bone loss.

A dental cleaning takes about an hour, requires general anesthesia and involves the removal of all plaque on the teeth and under the gum line, polishing and a fluoride treatment. This plaque buildup can help be prevented by giving dry concentrate (vs. wet), special dental chew toys and daily teeth brushing with special, poultry-flavored toothpaste. 

When you take your dog into the veterinarian for annual vaccinations, please be sure that his teeth are checked and recommendations for dental care are given.

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