Could Your Dog Have A Cavity?
There are lots of oral healthcare products, treats and toys on the market that are designed to help keep your dog's teeth clean and healthy, and they can work well when used correctly. However, dogs, like humans, can get dental cavities. This sometimes comes as a surprise to dog owners, as cavities are commonly associated with consuming sweet foods and sugary drinks. In fact, cavities can be caused when food debris is left on your dog's teeth for prolonged periods of time. Bacteria thrive on this food debris and produce acid as a waste product, which contributes to the development of plaque on your dog's teeth. This can cause enamel to weaken and cavities to develop.
Signs Of Cavities In Dogs
Any dog can develop a cavity, but certain breeds, such as poodles, pugs and Chihuahuas, seem to be at an increased risk of developing tooth decay. It can be difficult to identify your dog has a cavity in the early stages of development, so it's worth checking your dog's teeth regularly to ensure cavities are picked up quickly. The most prominent sign of an early-stage cavity is tooth discolouration. Your dog will develop a white spot at the sight of the cavity, and this will gradually turn brown as the cavity deepens and the enamel is completely eroded. At this stage, your dog will likely begin to experience tooth pain, which can cause them to paw at their mouth, drool more than would be typical for them and drop food out of their mouth when they are eating.
Treatment For Cavities In Dogs
Your vet will confirm your dog has a cavity by examining your dog's teeth and taking X-rays to determine the depth of the cavity and whether there's any damage to the tooth pulp or roots. They will then recommend a treatment approach based on their findings.
Small cavities that are caught early can be treated with a dental bonding agent. This prevents any further decaying of the tooth and can support remineralisation. Deep cavities will require an amalgam resin filling, and this type of treatment will require your vet to drill away any areas of decay before filling and sealing the cavity. In cases where the cavity is so deep that the tooth pulp has been damaged, or when there are signs of a bacterial infection, a root canal treatment may be required to remove the infected tooth pulp before filling and sealing the tooth. Your dog will likely require a general anaesthetic when undergoing treatment for a cavity, but they should be able to go home straight after the procedure and they will experience immediate relief from their symptoms.
If you think your dog has a cavity, or if you'd like some advice about caring for their teeth or other veterinary services, contact a local vet.