Common Dog Dental Problems

Many times, dog owners complain that their dog’s breath smells. Although at first glance this seems harmless, bad breath may be linked to Periodontal disease. This article will discuss how periodontal disease develops and what to look out for. 


Plaque is the soft bacteria and food debris  that develops on your dog's mouth after days of eating and not brushing. Plaque can easily be removed by brushing your dog's teeth. 


If plaque is not brushed off, tartar develops. There are minerals in your dog's saliva which harden plaque and in doing so, firmly attaches it to your dog’s teeth. 


Gingivitis develops when tartar starts to dig and develop below the gum tissue. Obvious signs of Gingivitis red, irritated and inflamed gums. Once tartar crosses the gum line, plaque bacteria develops in the gums, causing a gum infection. 


This plaque bacteria then secretes toxins which damage the gum tissue. A dog’s immune system then kicks in due to the inflammation and tissue damage this bacteria causes. Although the white blood cells and other inflammatory chemicals attempt to get rid of this infection, a lot of boney tissues of the tooth (or teeth) are damaged in this process

Tooth root abscess

When this boney tissue depletes, bacteria gains access to the root of the tooth (or teeth) and kills it. Not only does the bacteria kill the root of the tooth, it also kills the blood supply from the jaw that the tooth needs to survive. After this occurs, the body’s immune system is stimulated again, resulting in accumulation of white blood cells called pus or an abscess. It is almost impossible for the body to rid itself of a tooth root abscess, so surgical intervention is required. These abscesses usually impact the large premolar teeth. It is important to look out for swelling under the eye. 

Tooth loss

Eventually, the tooth or teeth that have this abscess will fall out as they are causing difficulty eating and/or pain. 

Periodontal disease doesn’t stop at the tooth. If this bacteria gets into your dog’s blood stream it can cause severe organ damage. This damage include but are not limited to: 

  • Nervous System: When bacteria break the blood-brain barrier it may cause meningitis
  • Kidney: Intestinal nephritis and glomerulonephritis
  • Liver: Hepatic parenchymal inflammation and hepatopathy
  • Heart: Endocarditis, mitral regurgitation and myocardial degeneration

It is important to keep on top of you dogs oral health. Here are some signs to look out for in your dog: 

  • Difficulty eating
  • Drooling
  • Pawing at the teeth or mouth
  • Discharge from the nose
  • Swelling under the eyes
  • Bad breath
  • Tooth discolouration or visible tartar
  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Red, swollen or bleeding gums
  • Weight loss or loss of appetite

The most common factor of periodontitis in dogs is inadequate brushing. To help prevent periodontitis, it is recommended that you brush your dog’s teeth twice a day. Regular veterinary dental cleans are also recommended.