Senior Dog Tooth Fell Out

It’s natural for dogs to lose some of their teeth as they age, just like humans. By the time they reach 7-10 years old, many dogs will have lost a number of their teeth due to periodontal disease, infection, trauma or cancer. While some tooth loss is normal in senior dogs, it’s important to pay close attention to your dog’s oral health. Lost teeth can make it painful for your dog to eat and lead to other health issues. Catching dental problems early allows you to get veterinary treatment to prevent tooth loss and keep your senior dog comfortable.

This article will cover the causes, signs, dangers and treatments for tooth loss in older dogs. You’ll learn how to care for your dog after they lose a tooth and prevent further tooth loss. We’ll also discuss when remaining teeth may need to be extracted and how to provide the best quality of life for a senior dog with missing teeth.

Causes of Tooth Loss in Senior Dogs

The most common cause of tooth loss in senior dogs is periodontal disease, which is an infection and inflammation of the tissues surrounding the tooth. Periodontal disease occurs when plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth, leading to inflammation and receding gums. Eventually this causes destruction of the tissues and bone that support the teeth, resulting in loosening and tooth loss if left untreated. According to the Whole Dog Journal, periodontal disease affects over 80% of dogs by the age of 3. Proper dental care and professional cleanings can help prevent periodontal disease in dogs.

Tooth fractures are another common cause of tooth loss in senior dogs. Fractures typically occur due to trauma, hard chewing on inappropriate objects like bones or rocks, or advanced periodontal disease weakening the tooth’s foundation. The fracture may initially only affect part of the tooth, but eventually can lead to tooth loss if the fracture worsens over time. Prompt veterinary attention for any tooth fractures can help save the tooth.

Tooth decay or cavities can also lead to tooth loss in dogs, especially if allowed to progress. Plaque buildup leads to tooth decay which erodes the enamel and forms holes in the tooth. Bacteria then infect the inner layers of the tooth. Left untreated, decay can cause significant destruction and tooth loss. Smaller dog breeds are more prone to tooth decay.

Trauma to the mouth can directly result in tooth loss at any age. Things like being hit by a car, bites from other animals, or injuries from chewing on hard objects can fracture, displace or damage teeth beyond repair. Any traumatic injury affecting the teeth should be evaluated by a vet.

According to Wag Walking, some dog breeds like Yorkshire Terriers are genetically prone to early tooth loss and dental issues. Their small jaw size predisposes them to overcrowding, alignment issues and early periodontal disease. Regular dental care can help mitigate genetic risk factors.

Signs Your Senior Dog Has Lost a Tooth

There are several signs indicating your senior dog may have lost a tooth. The most common include trouble eating, bleeding from the mouth, loose teeth, and bad breath.

If your older dog is having difficulty eating or seems to be in pain when chewing, this could signify a lost tooth. Missing teeth make it harder for dogs to grasp and chew their food properly. You may notice them dropping kibble from their mouth while eating. Softer foods like canned food may be easier for them to consume (WagWalking).

You may also spot some blood in your dog’s saliva, on their toys, or on your floors. Bleeding occurs when the tooth falls out and leaves behind an open socket. The blood supply to the tooth is severed, causing minor bleeding. Keep an eye out for any blood around your dog’s mouth.

Loose or wiggly teeth are a clear precursor to tooth loss in senior dogs. Your vet can check for loose teeth during an exam. Gently lifting your dog’s lips to inspect their teeth can also reveal loosening. Bad breath or an oral odor may also indicate dental issues like gum disease, plaque buildup, or tooth decay – all factors leading to tooth loss (Toegrips).

Dangers of Tooth Loss in Senior Dogs

Tooth loss in senior dogs can lead to some serious health complications if left untreated. According to research from Whole Dog Journal [1], the most common issues associated with tooth loss in older dogs are:

Pain

The loss of a tooth, especially if the root is still in the socket, can be very painful for dogs. The exposed nerve endings in the tooth socket can cause significant discomfort. Dogs may show signs like reduced appetite, reluctance to chew or play with toys, and even aggression.

Infection

Exposed tooth sockets are prime areas for harmful bacteria to enter and cause infection. Infection of the tooth socket (called an abscess) is common and can spread to the bone around the tooth root leading to osteomyelitis, a serious bone infection [2].

Tooth Root Abscess

If any part of a tooth root is left behind after tooth loss, it can die off inside the gum and become an abscess. The abscess fills with pus and bacteria pressing on the bone. This is very painful and damaging to the jaw bone [3].

Damage to Jaw Bone

Infection and inflammation in the tooth socket from a lost tooth can destroy the jaw bone around the socket. This can lead to permanent deformity or fracturing of the jaw over time.

Malnutrition

Difficulty chewing due to painful or missing teeth often leads senior dogs to only eat soft foods. Lack of crunching from hard kibble or chews can make it hard for dogs to get nutrients they need. Weight loss, muscle wasting, and lethargy can result.

[1] https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/health/senior-dog-is-losing-teeth/
[2] https://wagwalking.com/wellness/5-common-dental-problems-in-elderly-dogs
[3] https://toegrips.com/older-dog-losing-teeth/

When to See the Vet

If your senior dog loses a tooth or you notice any signs of dental issues, it’s important to schedule a veterinary exam right away. According to Embrace Pet Insurance, some signs that indicate your dog should see the vet include:

  • Bleeding from the mouth or areas around lost teeth
  • Difficulty eating or chewing
  • Loose or damaged teeth
  • Swelling of the face or mouth
  • Bad breath or pus around teeth and gums
  • Crying or whining from mouth pain

These can all be signs of infection, gum disease, or dental abscesses which require prompt veterinary attention and treatment (https://www.embracepetinsurance.com/waterbowl/article/loose-broken-or-chipped-teeth). It’s especially crucial to have your vet examine any lost tooth and socket, as retained root fragments can cause ongoing infection. Your vet will check for signs of pain, gum inflammation, and trouble eating, and may take x-rays to fully evaluate the tooth loss.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If your senior dog has lost a tooth, it’s important to take them to the vet for an exam. The vet will perform a full physical exam and inspect your dog’s mouth thoroughly. They will look for signs of infection, bleeding, or other dental issues.

Your vet may want to take dental x-rays to get a better look at the tooth roots and surrounding bone structure. X-rays can help identify any hidden problems like tooth fragments, infections, or cysts (Source).

If your dog has a loose tooth that needs to be extracted, the vet will perform the tooth extraction procedure. This is usually done under general anesthesia for your dog’s comfort and safety. Antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent or treat any infections.

Your vet may also prescribe pain medications to keep your dog comfortable after having a tooth extracted. It’s normal for dogs to be sore for a few days after a dental surgery.

Caring for Your Dog After Tooth Loss

After your senior dog loses a tooth, proper care is essential to keep the mouth healthy and prevent issues from arising. There are several things you can do at home to care for your dog after tooth loss:

Feed a soft food diet. Dry kibble can be painful for tender gums after a tooth extraction. Switch to wet canned food, add warm water to kibble to soften it, or look for senior dog food formulated into tender morsels. Avoid hard treats as well. Follow your vet’s recommendations on transitioning back to normal food over several days.

Brush teeth daily. Gently brushing your dog’s teeth daily helps prevent plaque buildup and decay in remaining teeth. Use a soft bristled toothbrush and dog-safe toothpaste. Pay special attention to areas around missing teeth.

Get regular dental cleanings. Professional dental cleanings every 6-12 months are important for senior oral health, especially after tooth loss. Vets can scale plaque below the gumline and identify any issues early.

Try at-home care. Oral rinses and dental wipes with antibacterial ingredients can help freshen breath and reduce bacteria between brushings. Discuss options with your vet.

Monitor for signs of discomfort. Appetite changes, reluctance to chew, or pawing at the mouth could indicate a problem. Notify your vet promptly if you notice anything abnormal.

With attentive at-home care and veterinary dental cleanings, dogs can live comfortably after losing teeth. Be vigilant and proactive about your senior dog’s oral health.

Preventing Tooth Loss

There are several steps pet owners can take to help prevent tooth loss in senior dogs:

Regular dental cleanings by a veterinarian are crucial for preventing periodontal disease, which is the main cause of tooth loss in dogs. Professional cleanings remove plaque and tartar from below the gumline that brushing at home cannot reach. Cleanings every 6-12 months are recommended for senior dogs depending on their dental health.

Daily tooth brushing at home helps remove plaque before it can harden into tartar and cause gum disease. Using a soft dog toothbrush and pet-safe toothpaste, gently brush along the gumline and outer surfaces of the teeth. Work up to brushing daily, but even several times per week can make a difference.

Dental treats and chews help scrape away plaque and tartar between professional cleanings. Look for products approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council that are specially formulated to clean teeth rather than just being a tasty chew. Supervise chewing to avoid choking hazards.

Seeing a veterinarian regularly for professional care and cleanings is key to preventing issues from developing without notice. Annual dental exams allow vets to identify problems early before they progress to tooth loss.

With diligent at-home care and professional cleanings, senior dogs can retain healthy teeth and avoid potentially painful tooth loss.

When to Extract Remaining Teeth

There are a few situations when a veterinarian may recommend extracting some or all of a senior dog’s remaining teeth:

Severely Damaged or Infected Teeth: If a tooth is cracked, retaining pieces of a broken tooth, or has an abscess or infection deep within the root, extraction is usually necessary. Leaving damaged or infected teeth can allow bacteria to spread, causing pain and further tooth loss.1

Advanced Periodontal Disease: Periodontal disease occurs when plaque builds up on the teeth. Bacteria in the plaque infects the gums and bone structure that supports the teeth. In advanced stages, periodontal disease can loosen teeth and cause painful infection. Extracting any severely compromised teeth can prevent the infection from worsening.2

Pain or Discomfort: If a vet determines a tooth is likely causing chronic pain or discomfort, they may recommend extraction for humane reasons. This is especially true for older dogs, as infected or damaged teeth can be very painful.3

Providing the Best Quality of Life

Even with missing teeth, you can ensure your senior dog lives a happy and comfortable life. Focus on keeping your dog comfortable, attending to their dental health, and giving lots of love.

Make mealtimes easier by serving wet food or soaking dry kibble in warm water or broth. This softens the food, making it easier to chew and swallow. You can also mix in some yogurt, cottage cheese, or canned pumpkin for added moisture. If your dog seems to have trouble eating, try hand-feeding them smaller portions frequently throughout the day.

Keep up with dental care by regularly brushing the remaining teeth and providing chews and treats made for dental health. Watch for signs of pain or infection like reduced appetite, excessive drooling, or bad breath. Schedule veterinary cleanings as needed.

Make sure your home has cushy beds in your dog’s favorite sleeping spots. Carpeted steps, orthopedic dog beds, and rugs provide comfort and traction. Keep up short, frequent walks and gentle play to maintain mobility. Monitor your dog’s activity level and make adjustments to their routine as needed.

Most importantly, continue providing loads of love, attention, and quality time together. Cuddle sessions, massages, new toys, and rides around town keep your dog’s spirits up. Adjust care as needed to maximize comfort and quality of life for your beloved senior pup.

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