Dental disease is the most common chronic disease in dogs. Unfortunately, dental health is often overlooked by dog owners as a high health priority. At Premier Veterinary Care, we have a strong focus on dental health in dogs given its impact on the overall health of the canine patient and thorough inspection of the teeth and oral cavity is an important component to our physical examination.
Dental disease causes direct pain as the result of deep pockets, root exposure, and root infection. The gum infection that accompanies dental disease known as gingivitis, which not only in turn worsens the progression of dental disease, but it also leads to immune system suppression, predisposes to cancer, and can lead to dangerous infections of the blood stream, kidneys, and heart valves.
Over time, bone loss from dental disease and infection of the roots can lead to pathological fractures of the jaw bone itself. Dental disease in the upper arcade of teeth can lead to holes in the nasal sinuses called oronasal fistulas.
Chronic infection in the mouth places constant stress on the immune system. For dogs that live with chronic dental disease, with the immune system engaged in the subsequent constant battle a diseased mouth presents to the body, it leaves the affected dog exposed to other opportunistic infections. When dental disease becomes painful, pain is a known stressor to the patient. The humane implications of this are obvious, however, chronic stress also is a known factor that additionally predisposes to immune suppression.
Predisposition to Cancer
Chronic inflammation and infection anywhere in the body predisposes tissues to the development of cancer, and dental disease is no exception. Cancers of the mouth, such as squamous cell carcinoma are not uncommonly seen in dogs. Living with chronic dental disease significantly increases the risk of development of this and other types of oral cancer in dogs.
They Suffer Silently
One of the common responses we receive from dog owners when we point out that a canine patient has dental disease is that the dog does not appear to be in pain. On the surface, the client is probably correct that the dog affected with dental disease may not be showing outward signs of pain. This is often because dogs have an innate instinct to hide and internalize signs of pain or weakness. This is why very often following a dental procedure, dog owners commonly see a change in their dog’s overall demeanor, regaining pep and activity, the reduction of which was so gradual that it escaped notice, or was just chalked up to age catching up to the dog.
Offensive Breath Is Never Normal
Dog owners often joke that no dog’s breath really smells good. This is most certainly true. Doggy breath is one thing, however, offensive breath to the extent that getting within the vicinity of the dog’s mouth is assaulting to the sense of smell is abnormal. If offensive breath affects your dog, then it is time to bring him/her for a thorough oral examination, as chances are, there is significant dental disease.
Other signs that your dog may be suffering from dental disease include:
Advanced Comprehensive Dog Dentistry
At Premier Veterinary Care, our technicians and doctors are highly trained in advanced dentistry scaling, polish, oral surgery, and dental x-ray. The dog anesthesia we provide for dental cleanings employs the safest anesthetics, protocols, and monitoring equipment available in the veterinary industry.
Suspect that your dog has dental disease?