While the shape of our teeth makes it easier for food debris to get stuck in cracks and crevasses, the cone-shaped element of a dog’s tooth makes the formation of cavities more difficult. However, it’s not impossible. About 5% of dogs are affected by cavities, but it’s still an issue you should be aware of. Cavities are an infection of the tooth that causes decay and a loss of enamel, and while rare in dogs, the decay can cause other dental problems that aren’t so rare. Here’s everything you need to know about cavities and your pets.
The only symptoms you’ll find of your pet having a cavity is the cavity itself, which is why it’s important that they have regular dental check-ups with a veterinarian. Cavities can form between teeth or at the root of the tooth and can vary between two types: incipient cavities that look like dull spots on the enamel, or cavities that appear to be tooth defects below the enamel’s surface.
What Causes Cavities?
The cause for cavities in dogs and other pets is due to a build-up of fermentable carbohydrates on the tooth’s surface, leading to plaque growth and demineralization. This bacteria attacks the tooth’s dentin and enamel, eventually consuming the tooth entirely. Common causes for cavities include poor oral hygiene, a poor diet filled with low quality, processed foods with high fermentable carbs, poor general health, low salivary pH or poorly mineralized tooth enamel. Dogs specifically who have crooked teeth or gaps between the teeth and gums are more at risk of developing cavities.
Once your vet has confirmed your pet has a cavity or two, through the use of X-rays and other measures, they’ll be able to treat it depending on the stage of decay. The first two stages are the simplest to treat, as the dentin and enamel surrounding the cavity will be removed and a crown will be applied in its place. The endodontic disease may be the third stage of a cavity, in which the tooth is dead due to a lack of blood entering the root canal. In this case, a root canal procedure will be done to remove the infected surfaces, clean the canal and seal everything up with a crown. The fourth and fifth stages are the most serious, resulting in the complete removal of the tooth to prevent the decay from spreading to other teeth.
At Eglinton Hwy 10 Veterinary Clinic, our licensed Mississauga veterinarians are committed to taking the best care of your pets. As a full-service animal hospital, our services include emergency medical, dental and surgical issues, pet wellness, spay and neuter surgery, vaccinations and more. With a highly trained staff and 24-hour emergency care, be sure to give us a call to book an appointment.