Dogs + Dental & Oral Health

  • It is estimated that over 80% of dogs over the age of three have periodontal disease (infection of the tissues surrounding the teeth). Brushing three times a week is the minimum recommendation to help remove plaque and prevent tartar accumulation. To be successful at brushing your dog's teeth, you must make it a positive experience for both of you. Do not use human toothpaste or baking soda. A list of dental products and diets that have been accepted by the Veterinary Oral Health Counsel can be found on

  • In veterinary dentistry tooth repair or restoration that fully covers the tooth is called a crown. Crowns are used after root canal therapy, when enamel is not present due to wear or congenital disease, causing part of the enamel not to form. An impression is made of the tooth requiring the crown, along with the surrounding upper and lower teeth. A crown is then made at a human dental lab. Crowns are most often metallic, composed of titanium, chromium, and stainless steel. Under normal wear, and with special care, the crown should last for your dog’s lifetime.

  • Plaque and tartar forms on teeth daily and, if allowed to accumulate, will cause progressive periodontal disease. Cleaning your dog's teeth every day at home helps prevent plaque and tartar build-up. For proper dental evaluation and care, your dog must be safely placed under general anesthesia. The examination usually includes dental X-rays and probing to evaluate gum bleeding and periodontal pockets. Tooth scaling will be performed, using both hand and ultrasonic scalers, to remove tartar above and below the gum line. Removing plaque and tartar before disease occurs is the foundation of preventative dentistry.

  • Dental disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a condition in which the tissues supporting the teeth become inflamed. When a pet develops dental disease, significant quantities of bacteria reside within the mouth and the oral tissues. These bacteria can enter the bloodstream and travel to other areas, specifically the heart, liver, and kidneys, causing distant or systemic effects. The bacteria that are found within the mouth of pets with dental disease are the same bacteria associated with both endocarditis and valvular disease in dogs and cats.

  • Dental disease is one of the most common medical conditions seen by veterinarians. The most common dental problems seen in dogs are periodontal disease and fractured teeth. Periodontal disease is a term used to describe infection and associated inflammation of the periodontium and begins with gingivitis. The best way to prevent tartar build-up is through daily tooth brushing using canine toothpaste. Tooth fractures may involve the crown of the tooth, exposing the sensitive dentin or they may also extend deeper to expose the pulp, which contains nerves and blood vessels. Avoid giving your dog hard chew objects that cannot bend.

  • According to numerous studies, between 80% and 89% of dogs have signs of dental disease by the time they reach 3 years of age. Dental pain in dogs may take on a variety of appearances, but in many cases a dog may not show any outward signs of pain. Sometimes dogs may exhibit signs such as decreased interest in eating dry food or hard treats, chewing more slowly than usual, dropping food while chewing, excessive drooling, pawing at the mouth, new or worsening resistance to having the face or mouth touched. The only effective treatment for dental pain is to address the dog's underlying dental disease. The best way to prevent dental pain is to ensure that your dog receives regular dental care through a home dental care plan and regular veterinary dental care.

  • If a tooth is unerupted, it is at risk of forming a destructive dentigerous (odontogenic) cyst in the bone. Although unerupted or broken teeth can be painful, dogs rarely show obvious signs of pain. Dentigerous cysts, including and the original tooth must be removed carefully as to avoid compromising the bone, which can easily fracture during the extraction. Dentigerous cysts are preventable if unerupted teeth are addressed early in life.

  • The center of the tooth is referred to as the root canal and contains soft tissue called pulp. Root canal involves removing the pulp from the center of an injured tooth, sterilizing the canal, and replacing the removed pulp with dental materials preventing bacteria from penetrating the center of the tooth. If your dog breaks a tooth to the extent that the pulp tissue is exposed, bacteria and oral debris enter the tooth resulting in pulpitis. Once a tooth is broken with the pulp exposed there are only two choices for treatment: root canal therapy or extraction. Root canal therapy is less invasive than extraction but requires advanced training and specialized equipment. Your veterinarian can help you find a board-certified veterinary dentist.

  • Dogs often break their teeth from chewing on bones, antlers, and hard chew toys. There are five classifications of tooth fractures ranging from enamel fractures to tooth root fractures. Clinical signs can include chewing on one side of the mouth, excessive drooling, dropping food while eating, pawing at the mouth, and facial swelling. A broken tooth needs attention to prevent infection and pain. Your veterinarian may perform root canal or extract the tooth. Eliminating hard chew toys and treats can prevent tooth fractures.

  • Gingival hyperplasia is the abnormal growth of excessive gum tissue. The gums may appear reddened or inflamed and may become so enlarged that it is difficult to visualize the teeth. In some cases, gingival hyperplasia may be localized to specific areas and its appearance may mimic the appearance of a mass or tumor. Gingival hyperplasia is most commonly treated with the surgical removal of the excessive proliferative tissue, referred to as gingivoplasty. Although it results in a significant improvement in clinical signs, gingivoplasty does not typically cure the condition.