Can Dogs Get Cavities?
Periodontal disease may be the most prevalent dental problem facing dogs today, but it is not the only one. While very rare, your dog is not immune from developing a cavity at some point during her lifetime.
What is a dental cavity and how can my dog get one?
Human and canine cavities are identical in terms of what they are and what causes them. Cavities, also referred to as caries, are areas of damage on yours or your pet’s teeth. They occur when the bacteria that is found in the food that your pet consumes remains attached to his teeth for a prolonged period. These bacteria use your pet’s food to produce acids. These are known as plaque acids and they have the ability to de-mineralize your dog’s teeth and eat away at the outer layers, causing decay and damage.
Initially, only the enamel of your dog’s teeth may be affected, but over time the decay can penetrate through the layers and cause damage to the very root of the tooth. When this happens, the tooth may die and either fall out or require extraction. Decay doesn’t always occur top-down either. It is entirely possible that areas of decay develop on the lower part of the tooth, near the gums. These types of cavities often penetrate the roots of the tooth much more quickly.
Why are dog cavities rare?
One of the main reasons that dogs are less likely to develop cavities than we are is down to their diet. Your furbaby will undoubtedly consume far less food that is high in sugar or acid, which are the main culprits in human tooth decay. Their dental anatomy helps too. Dog teeth are pointy rather than flat, and this gives the bacteria less space to thrive.
Are any dogs at particularly high risk of developing cavities?
Although all dogs can be affected by dental cavities, there are some breeds that tend to be at higher risk of this type of oral health problem. They include:
- English Bulldog
- French Bulldog
- Shih Tzu
Symptoms of a canine cavity
Unless your dog is showing specific symptoms that point to a cavity having developed, it can be very difficult to know that she has a dental problem until the decay has advanced significantly.
There are some symptoms to look out for and these include:
- Obvious dental pain
- Drooling more than usual
- Discoloration of the teeth, particularly yellow or brown deposits near the gum line
- A dark spot anywhere on a tooth
- Dropping food
- Loss of appetite
You will need to arrange for an appointment with our veterinarian to get the cavity formally diagnosed and start treatment. Our vet will perform a thorough examination of your pet’s teeth, which may also involve taking x-rays so that any damage beneath the gum line can also be assessed.
Treating a canine cavity
The good news is that your four-legged friend doesn’t need to live with the effects of a canine cavity.
In the early stages of decay, dental bonding may be used to encourage the tooth to remineralize itself and prevent the decay from worsening. However, in the later stages of the condition, the decayed areas may need to be drilled out and filled with an amalgam resin filling, much like it would be in a human tooth.If the decay has spread beyond the tooth, root canal therapy may be required so that the infection in the root of the tooth is properly dealt with and cannot recur.