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Cavities In Dogs: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Our veterinarians in Santa Clarita provide tips on preventing cavities in dogs and what to do if your dog has one. Neglecting proper oral hygiene can cause our canine companions to develop cavities, much like humans.

Can dogs get cavities?

Cavities, also known as caries, can occur in both humans and dogs for the same reason. They develop due to enamel damage caused by prolonged exposure to bacteria found in food. When these bacteria remain on the tooth's surface for an extended period, they accumulate acid, eroding the tooth's outer layers and causing decay and harm.

Over time, a dog's enamel can completely deteriorate, damaging the tooth's root. In severe cases, this can result in tooth loss or the need for extraction.

Cavities in dogs are relatively rare due to the low levels of sugars and acids in most canine diets. However, certain breeds are more prone to tooth decay than others. Pugs, Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, Bulldogs, Poodles, and Shih Tzus all have a higher likelihood of experiencing tooth decay.

What happens if a dog has a cavity?

Identifying the early signs of cavity development before they progress to advanced tooth decay is crucial. Regular dental check-ups for your dog are important for this reason.

If you observe any of the following symptoms, it may be a sign of a cavity or another oral health problem, and you should schedule an appointment with your vet immediately:

  • Excessive drooling
  • A dark spot anywhere on the tooth
  • Discomfort or pain in the mouth area
  • Tooth discoloration (watch for yellow or brown deposits near the gum line)
  • Dropping food
  • Lack of appetite

How do you treat dog cavities?

When your dog is diagnosed with one or more cavities, the vet will assess the level of damage caused to their teeth. There are five stages of damage:

Stage 1: Only enamel affected
Stage 2: Enamel and dentin affected
Stage 3: Enamel, dentin, and pulp chamber affected
Stage 4: Structural crown damage
Stage 5: Majority of the tooth crown lost, exposing the roots

Treating your dog's cavities depends on the level of damage their tooth has.

For stage one or two cavities, we will remove the enamel around the cavity and restore the crown with an amalgam filling.

For stage three cavities, your dog will undergo a root canal procedure similar to what humans experience. The root canal will be disinfected, scrubbed, and filled, and the crown will be restored and sealed.

If your dog has a Stage four or five cavity, tooth removal may be necessary due to the severity of the damage. Your veterinarian will likely apply a sealant to the surrounding teeth to prevent future cavities.

Preventive Measures

Regularly taking your dog to the vet for dental check-ups is crucial for maintaining oral hygiene and preventing cavities.

When you schedule routine cleanings for your dog, your vet can also identify any emerging oral health problems and recommend treatments before they become more serious.

Apart from vet visits, you can help maintain your dog's oral hygiene by regularly brushing its teeth at home between vet appointments and providing it with chew toys specifically designed to reduce plaque buildup.

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.

Are you concerned about your dog's oral health? Book an appointment for dental care with our Santa Clarita vets today!

New Patients Welcome

Sweetwater Veterinary Clinic is accepting new patients! Our friendly and experienced vets are passionate about the health of Santa Clarita companion animals and horses. Get in touch today to book your four-legged friend's first appointment.

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