Fact or Fiction: A Close-Up On Dental Cavities in Dogs?
While cavities in dogs aren’t as common as they are in people, they do exist in about 5% of canine patients. Also known as dental caries, canine cavities occur when oral bacteria ferments carbohydrates on the tooth surface. While there are some other factors that are part of this tooth-decaying process, the fact is this diagnosis can be prevented.
All Things Considered
Part of the reason why you might not be aware of cavities in dogs is that there are some unique criteria involved. First, there must be a spot on a tooth for food to accumulate. Second, a dog must have eaten fermentable carbohydrates. Lastly, the presence of high salivary pH is necessary to trigger the fermentation process.
When all the components are aligned, oral bacteria ferments the carbohydrates in the accumulated food into acids. Tooth enamel begins to demineralize and micro cavitations flourish beneath the surface.
Lesions develop when the mineral exchange between oral fluid and enamel is out of balance. When minerals are lost from enamel, caries progress. If we catch dental cavities in dogs early enough, a restorative material can reverse the damage.
Left alone, dental caries can become a big problem for dogs over time. Advanced lesions require surgical extraction.
Getting In Front
Even though cavities in dogs are atypical, it’s important to adhere to a regular schedule of examinations and cleanings to prevent other problems, like periodontal disease.
Routine dental exams under anesthesia give us opportunities to detect abnormalities on the surface of the teeth. We may be able to prevent lesions from developing down the road. Things like pits, cracks, or grooves can help us create an individualized approach to long term dental health that may even include altering the tooth surface.
Regular tooth brushing at home is great, but professional dental cleanings thoroughly remove plaque and tartar off surfaces that are generally hard to reach. Not coincidentally, these are often the places where cavities in dogs are likely to form.
Cavities in Dogs
Your dog’s dental health is a primary concern. You may not know if all the elements for caries are in play, but with regular preventative care you can stay ahead of developing issues.
Another way to decelerate the buildup of plaque and tartar is provide dental products, like chews or a prescription diet, approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council. We can help you find the right products for your dog.