Common Pet Dental Conditions
There are many pet dental conditions that can affect your pet due to disease or injury. If you think your pet has a dental issue or injury, you should have them evaluated by a veterinary dentist as soon as possible. It's also important your pet receives an annual professional dental cleaning and exam under anesthesia. This is the only way to adequately clean your pet's teeth and also find hidden periodontal disease or painful conditions beneath the gumline.
- Bleeding in Pet's Mouth
Oral bleeding can result from injury, chronic gum disease, tumors, wedging or penetration by foreign objects such as bone fragments or wood, and even from certain poisons. It is important to have your veterinarian examine the mouth for obvious causes of oral bleeding. When injury, tumor, or chronic gum disease is determined to be the cause, the veterinary dentist can advise you about treatment alternatives. In most cases, prompt treatment gives the best result. Delay in diagnosis and treatment may result in tooth loss, disfigurement, delayed healing, or failure to respond to therapy.
- Broken Pet Teeth
Broken pet teeth with pulp exposure require prompt treatment because they cause significant pain and infection may result. Depending on the freshness of the injury, the pet's age, and the nature of the fracture, several treatment procedures may be considered. The options may include extraction, vital pulp therapy, and root canal treatment. Enamel chip fractures may require only smoothing of the surface and application of a sealant. However, if you can see a red spot or a hole in the center of the tooth, prompt attention is required. It is always best to have a veterinary dentist evaluate broken teeth.
- Cast Metal Crowns
To preserve function of a broken pet tooth, it is often advisable to restore a fractured pet tooth with a crown. Many materials have been used in dogs and cats, just as they have been used in people. However, the bite force generated by dogs is significantly greater than humans typically produce. So some materials that are cosmetically pleasing and work well in humans are less desirable in dogs and cats. Cast metal alloys have proven to be the most consistently reliable materials for crowns in dogs and cats. Fortunately, they are among the less expensive materials as well. Cast metal crowns may be of value in cases of fracture, excessive wear, or for animals with very soft enamel.
- Pet Tooth Crown Reduction
Sometimes referred to as “disarming,” crown reduction is one option when a pet’s aggressive behavior has resulted in injury to another animal. Several factors should be evaluated when considering crown reduction. The procedure typically involves reducing the length of the canine teeth and blunting them. While this may reduce the severity of a bite injury, it will not reduce aggressive behavior. Furthermore, significant injury may still be caused by an animal so treated. The incisor teeth of a dog are quite capable of cutting and tearing away flesh, and of bruising, breaking and amputating fingers or the limbs of small animals or children.
Crown reduction may be more successful in cats, whose injury potential is greatly diminished by crown reduction. However, the premolar teeth of cats are very sharp, and capable of causing a great deal of harm should an aggressive cat bite a finger or the hand of a child. In general, where animal to human aggression is involved, crown reduction is not considered to be an adequate form of disarming. Read more about crown reduction.
- Veterinary Dental X-Rays
Dental x-rays (Intraoral Radiographs) are an integral part of routine dental care for you pet. Bone loss from periodontal disease, root resorption and tooth root abscesses are difficult to impossible to assess without dental x-rays. The status of missing teeth and invasiveness of oral masses cannot be known without x-ray imaging. The success or failure of dental treatment, including root canal treatment or even extractions cannot be determined in the absence of x-rays. An increasing number of veterinary practices are acquiring the ability to take dental x-rays, and are thus improving the level of dental care provided to their patients. Whenever oral disease is present, dental x-rays should be among the first diagnostic options employed. This is perhaps the most cost-effective diagnostic tool available to the veterinarian and to the client.
- Elongated Teeth of Rabbits and Rodents
Elongate teeth is a frequent problem in pets that have had teeth trauma or poor eating habits. Rabbits and rodents have continuous growing teeth and if the teeth do not align the way they are supposed to, they grow out of occlusion making eating difficult or impossible. The best method utilized to treat these teeth is by repeatedly trimming teeth until there is normal occlusion. The teeth can also be removed. The removal of these teeth can be very difficult due to the teeth size, structure and position.
- Facial Swelling
Facial swelling can be attributed to many different concerns. The most common are an abscessed or fractured tooth, facial or jaw fractures, an oral tumor, a foreign body lodged in the oral cavity or something as simple as an allergic reaction from a bug bite. When you see facial swelling in your pet the best action to take is having your pet evaluated by your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will determine if the facial swelling needs to be evaluated by our specialty practice.
- Fractured Pet Jaws
Pets can obtain fractured jaws by variable causes. A pet can have facial trauma from a baseball bat, running into things like walls and fences or other dogs, or being struck by a car. Prompt treatment for a pet jaw injury is always best for pain control and to ensure excellent repair and healing. Direct trauma is the most common reason for a fractured jaw but on occasion fractures occur due to severe periodontal disease and abscessed teeth or with the removal of abscessed teeth. Most fractured jaws are repairable with little or no disfigurement. Once the fracture site is reduced, an oral splint can be placed utilizing orthopedic wire with acrylic composite for stabilization. In some cases, only orthopedic wire will be used to stabilize a fracture. This wire will be covered by oral tissues and it would be up to the veterinarian to determine if this wire would stay permanently in place or need to be removed at a later date. Radiographs (or x-rays) are taken to evaluate healing and are used to determine whether wire removal is necessary.
- Pet Gingivitis
Inflammation of the gums (gingiva) is called gingivitis. It is usually an indication of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is the most common malady of dogs, and the most common cause of tooth loss. In the early stage, periodontal disease may be limited to gingivitis, but if unchecked, more extensive disease often develops. The gingiva may detach from the teeth, opening a path for infection to destroy the periodontal ligament and alveolus (tooth socket). It is very difficult to reverse periodontal disease once it has progressed beyond the gingivitis stage. If you see abnormal redness or swelling of the gums, it is very important to discuss dental prophylaxis with your veterinarian. After a thorough dental cleaning, examination and x-rays to rule out more extensive periodontal disease, be sure to institute a program of daily home care including tooth brushing. Feeding a dental formula food and weekly use of a sealant may also be of some benefit.
- Gingivostomatitis and CUPS
“CUPS” is an acronym for “Chronic Ulcerative Paradental Syndrome.” It refers to a painful condition that occurs in animals that are particularly sensitive to dental plaque. Plaque is a film (biofilm) composed of organic material, various bacteria and their products. Plaque elicits an immune response, which in some animals can be very severe. The most common consequence of plaque is gingivitis, but when complicated by an overzealous host response, the clinical syndromes of “CUPS” or gingivostomatitis may be seen. Gingivostomatitis refers to an extension of the inflammatory process to involve tissues not adjacent to the teeth. Although we tend to think of plaque as something that is present on teeth, plaque-like biofilms form on all moist surfaces. So it is not surprising that the inflammatory host response that causes CUPS may extend to involve more extensive areas of the oral cavity.
Treatment of gingivostomatitis involves plaque control and management of the immune response. Plaque reduction begins with thorough professional dental cleaning, and requires diligent home care. Home care includes tooth brushing and the use of antiseptic rinses such as chlorhexidine. Short term antibiotics may be helpful to reduce the bacterial load in the mouth, and anti-inflammatory medications may make the animal more comfortable
Because animals with CUPS or gingivostomatitis may be very painful, home care can be difficult. In these situations, until clinical control of the condition is obtained, very frequent professional cleaning under general anesthesia may be needed.
- Malocclusion in Pet's Mouth
The occlusion of dogs and cats teeth is how the teeth and jaws are normally aligned for chewing. A malocclusion is where the alignment of the jaws or teeth is not normal. This malocclusion may result from teeth that have erupted abnormally. An underbite describes the malocclusion when the lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw. An overbite describes the malocclusion when the upper jaw is longer than the lower jaw. Another malocclusion is called a base narrow bite, which occurs when the two lower canine teeth are erupting straight up into the palate instead of flaring out and into normal occlusion. There are many different causes of malocclusion. The most common is a genetic defect in skull growth or teeth development and other causes can be related to facial trauma or illness with high fevers affecting tooth development while the teeth are in the embryonic stages. There are many ways to treat malocclusions including orthodontics, which involves moving teeth into the correct position, oral surgery to complete strategic extractions to make the mouth comfortable and functional, and by tooth crown reductions and endodontics (pulp therapy) to remove teeth crowns which are creating the malocclusion.
- Nasal Discharge or Bleeding in Pet
Nasal discharge or bleeding is commonly caused by foreign bodies, viral or bacterial infection, nasal polyps or tumors. Nasal bleeding or discharge can result from a traumatic incident, which would usually be accompanied by a maxillary or nasal fracture. Intraoral radiographs, cultures and fiberoptic scoping of the nasal passages is the best technique to diagnose the cause of the nasal problem. A biopsy can be completed to retrieve a specimen from the nasal passage for submission to the laboratory for a histopathology report. Nasal discharge or bleeding can be on ongoing problem which is managed utilizing different medications and techniques including nasal flushing under anesthesia.
- Oral Mass in Pet's Mouth
There are many types of oral masses and some may not be malignant. Removal of any oral mass as soon as possible, coupled with a pathologic examination, is recommended to discover the possibility of malignancy and to evaluate for potential recurrence, further treatment or to determine if an existing tumor may spread. It may be necessary to remove a part of the jaw or the entire jaw to beneficially treat the affected oral mass area. Most pets tolerate surgical methods of treatment and adapt well and quickly return to function. Oral tumor treatment can involve surgically debulking the tumor area and then utilizing combinations of radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
- Pet Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease is a condition in which the gingival attachment of one or more teeth is compromised. Periodontal disease is a progressive infection that results in tooth loss, and plays a role in the development of other more serious systemic disease which may affect the kidneys, heart and liver. Treatment requires frequent professional prophylaxis and daily home care. Antibiotics are sometimes prescribed as a short-term measure, but the mainstay of treatment is daily tooth brushing and the use of a chlorhexidine antiseptic rinse. Halitosis and bleeding gums is often a warning sign that periodontal disease is present. If you notice these symptoms, please have you pet examined.
- Feline Resorptive Lesions
Cats may be afflicted with a condition known as Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions (FORLs). Affected teeth are damaged by a destructive process that causes progressive loss of tooth structure. This is a painful disease for which we currently have no preventive or curative therapy. This is a common disease, which affects a majority of cats over 5 years of age. Similar dental resorption also occasionally occurs in dogs. At this point, extraction of the affected teeth is the only definitive treatment available to eliminate the pain associated with this condition, and to reduce the likelihood of damage to adjacent teeth. When a significant amount of tooth crown or root structure has been destroyed, extractions can become challenging, requiring a surgical approach. Early lesions may be treated to reduce sensitivity, but this will not stop or slow the inevitable loss of affected teeth. While animals may show little spontaneous evidence of pain, probing these lesions, even under general anesthesia, often elicits a strong pain response. We know that animals with affected teeth must experience a great deal of discomfort that they simply have to endure if treatment is not given. In some cases there will be other signs of trouble such as difficulty chewing, bleeding or swelling in the gums. Dental examinations should be performed twice yearly so that desensitization or extraction can be performed when necessary.
- Pet Teeth Grinding
Teeth grinding can be associated with oral pain or discomfort or nervous tendencies in your pet. Malocclusion can also cause the teeth to rub and grind. Occasionally, pets with stomach disorders may grind teeth more frequently. This activity may become a habit that can be difficult to stop. Evaluation of teeth grinding requires a complete oral examination and intraoral radiographs (dental x-rays) under general anesthesia to assess it’s cause.