Warning Signs of Rotten Teeth in Dogs
Have you been wondering, "Are my dog's teeth rotting?" It can be hard to be sure when pets' mouths are normally slobbery and stinky, but here are some ways to be your own dog dentist. Look for these warning signs, and, if you're unsure, come in for a pet tooth cleaning at your local vet.
How to Tell If a Dog's Teeth Are Rotten
What do rotten dog teeth look like? These are six warning signs to look for as you're examining your dog's teeth:
- Tartar (Plaque): A buildup of hardened dental plaque is called tartar or dental calculus. This mineral deposit might, but may not always, be yellow, orange or brown. Typically, you'll see it along the gum line or on the insides of the teeth.
- Cavities (Holes): Sometimes dental caries or cavities are visible as holes in your dog's teeth. They can be dark spots on the surface of the tooth or big, dark holes.
- Discoloration (Brown Teeth): Yellow or brown discoloration of the teeth along the gum line is a good indication of tartar and plaque buildup.
- Gingivitis (Swollen Gums): Red and swollen gums will surround the teeth. The inflamed gums will often have plaque at the base of the teeth as well.
- Severe Periodontitis (Retreating Gums): On a long enough timeline, gingivitis will become periodontitis, which means that the gum line will look like it's pulling away from the teeth. This will form pockets that may bleed or form puss. If your dog's gums are bleeding, it may be an indication of this.
- Bad Breath: While stinky breath may also be a sign of other complications like digestive, kidney and liver problems, bad breath is typically linked with poor dental hygiene, as in humans.
Other Important Dog Tooth Abscess Symptoms
If you're having trouble looking into your pet's mouth, here are some other warning signs to look out for:
- Head Shyness: Your pet not letting you touch one side of its face, its mouth or its whole head may be a sign of several kinds of pain. It may indicate rotten teeth.
- Difficulty Eating and Chewing: Gingerly picking up food, eating on one side of the mouth and careful eating may be a sign of tooth pain.
- Drooling and Dribbling: An unusual or new amount of drool may be a warning sign.
- Ropey Saliva: Ropey or bloody saliva may happen as a result of dental issues.
- More Frequent Sneezing: Severe periodontitis may even cause bone loss between the nasal and oral cavity, leading to nasal discharge.
- Blood on Chew Toys or in Dishes: If you find that ropey or bloody saliva on toys or in your dog's water dish, it may be time for a dental checkup.
How to Tell If Rotten Dog Teeth Are Falling Out
Outside of a tooth or piece of tooth falling into your hand, sometimes it might be a little hard to tell if your dog has lost teeth. Often, a dog will bleed from the mouth into its water bowl. Also, you might be able to see where a tooth has fallen out of: Check for those inflamed gums in one part of the mouth. Also, if the dog has a severe tooth abscess, a piece of the tooth may have cracked off.
A dog's teeth falling out typically happens for two reasons: trauma to the area or periodontitis. Plaque buildup eventually leads to swollen gums (gingivitis) and then later lead to periodontitis, where the gums will pull away from the teeth, exposing them to bacteria and later tooth loss and decay. If you see signs of gingivitis, it's time to bring your dog in.
Worries That Aren't Necessarily Warning Signs
Sometimes, worried pet owners exclaim, "My dog has rotten teeth! What do I do?!" when there's nothing to worry about. These things might seem alarming, but may actually be fine:
- Black Gums: If your dog has black gums but no bad breath, it may be something that the pet was born with, like a freckle. Some breeds, like Chows, are preferred for having black gums. If they aren't accompanied by bleeding, bad smell, and plaque buildup, it's likely okay!
- Snaggleteeth: If a dog has a protruding snaggletooth, but plaque has not yet built up around or behind it, it doesn't necessarily need to be pulled out. It may need to be brushed and checked more often than normal teeth, though. Our dog teeth cleaning in Jacksonville, FL, and nearby cities in North Florida can help you stay on top of the problem.
How to Prevent Dog Tooth Problems
Preventing gingivitis and periodontitis will help slow the pace of severe tooth loss in a dog's old age.
- Brushing your dog's teeth (with special toothpaste) can help prevent the situation worsening.
- Perform preventative care by visiting your local vet for a pet teeth cleaning. (Jacksonville, FL, pet owners can connect with us for local care.)
- Provide soft, teeth-friendly toys for your dog to gnaw on, like tennis balls and rubbery toys.
- Be choosey about your dog's food and treats. Specialty food and dental treats can help prevent severe issues.
If you're not sure whether your dog's teeth are rotten, feel free to connect with us. We can serve as your dog's dentist in Florida and help with most forms of preventative pet dental care.