What Do I Do If My Dogs Teeth Are Rotting And Falling Out?

Signs Your Dog’s Teeth Are Rotting

There are several common signs indicating your dog may have rotten or decaying teeth:

Bad breath: One of the first signs of tooth decay in dogs is foul-smelling breath. As plaque and bacteria build up on the teeth and gums, it causes halitosis or bad doggy breath (source: https://www.greatpetcare.com/dog-health/rotten-dog-teeth/).

Discolored or loose teeth: Over time, plaque mineralizes into tartar, which leads to gum disease. You may notice discoloration of your dog’s teeth near the gumline or that certain teeth look brownish. Eventually the teeth can become loose or even fall out (source: https://forevervets.com/blog/warning-signs-of-rotten-teeth-in-dogs).

Bleeding gums: Gum disease associated with rotten teeth can cause inflammation and bleeding. You may see blood on your dog’s toys or notice their gums are red and inflamed.

Trouble eating: Dental pain can make it difficult for dogs to eat hard food or chew properly. Your dog may drop food, only eat on one side of their mouth, or switch to only eating soft food.

Excessive drooling: The pain from advanced tooth decay can lead to increased drooling and discomfort when eating.

Causes of Tooth Decay in Dogs

There are several common causes of tooth decay in dogs:

Plaque Buildup – Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that builds up on a dog’s teeth. If not removed regularly through brushing, plaque hardens into tartar. Both plaque and tartar can irritate the gums and lead to infection and tooth decay. Plaque buildup is the primary cause of cavities in dogs, just like in humans (Source: https://www.fourcornersvet.com/site/blog/2022/12/30/cavity-dogs).

Genetics – Some breeds are more prone to dental issues than others. Smaller breed dogs like Yorkshire Terriers tend to have more crowded, misaligned teeth that can be harder to keep clean. Large breed dogs may have enamel defects that make their teeth more susceptible to decay (Source: https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/dental-disease-in-dogs).

Injury – Trauma to a tooth that cracks or chips the enamel provides an entry point for bacteria to invade and cause decay. Fractured teeth are more prone to developing cavities if not treated.

Malnutrition – Deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals, like vitamin D and calcium, can weaken tooth enamel over time. Poor diet can increase plaque and tartar buildup as well.

Health Risks of Tooth Decay

Tooth decay can lead to a number of health issues in dogs. Left untreated, tooth decay causes severe pain as the infection spreads into the tooth pulp and root. According to one source, “Dogs will often stop eating because of oral pain caused by advanced periodontal disease” (https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/dental-disease-in-dogs). The infection can then spread from the mouth to other parts of the body.

As tooth decay worsens, teeth can become so damaged that they fall out or need to be extracted by a veterinarian. This tooth loss impairs a dog’s ability to properly chew food, which can lead to nutritional deficiencies if owners don’t adjust the dog’s diet. Per one source, “Loss of teeth will affect your dog’s ability to grasp and chew food properly” (https://www.petmd.com/dog/grooming/evr_dg_oral_hygiene_and_your_dogs_health). Owners may need to switch to wet food or soak dry kibble to make it easier to eat.

In advanced cases, the bacteria from gum disease can enter the bloodstream and damage internal organs like the heart, kidneys and liver. Studies show dogs with severe dental disease have a higher risk of congestive heart failure and other life-threatening conditions. Therefore, it’s critical to have a veterinarian examine and treat any signs of tooth decay in dogs before it progresses. With early intervention, most dogs can avoid the painful, debilitating effects of advanced tooth decay and gum disease.

When to See a Vet

If you notice any signs of tooth decay or other dental issues in your dog, it’s important to schedule a veterinary appointment right away. Some of the most common symptoms that warrant a prompt vet visit include:

Loose adult teeth – Adult dogs should not have loose permanent teeth. This is a clear sign of tooth decay or periodontal disease.

Swollen/bleeding gums – Inflamed, bleeding gums indicate infection and/or advanced dental disease.

Pawing at mouth – Your dog may paw at their mouth if they have a fractured tooth or abscess causing pain and discomfort.

Difficulty eating – Your dog may show signs of discomfort or trouble chewing and eating if they have seriously decayed or damaged teeth.

Other potential signs include bad breath, discolored teeth, reduced appetite, and behavioral changes. But any evidence of loose permanent teeth, swollen gums, pawing, or eating issues should prompt an urgent vet visit. The longer you wait, the worse the problems are likely to get.

At the vet, they will perform a thorough oral exam and may take x-rays to evaluate the extent of disease. From there, they will recommend appropriate treatment, which may involve cleaning, extraction, antibiotics, and ongoing dental care recommendations.

It’s much better to get dental issues treated early before they progress. So don’t delay – schedule a dental vet appointment as soon as you notice any of the above warning signs.

[1] https://www.crossroadsvh.com/site/blog/2021/10/15/cavities-in-dogs-causes-symptoms-treatment.

[2] https://www.fourcornersvet.com/site/blog/2022/12/30/cavity-dogs.

[3] https://www.tracyvets.com/site/blog/2022/05/16/cavities-in-dogs-causes-symptoms-and-treatment

Diagnosing Tooth Decay

To properly diagnose tooth decay in dogs, the veterinarian will perform a complete oral exam. This involves visually inspecting the teeth, gums, and oral cavity for any signs of plaque, tartar buildup, gum inflammation, or tooth discoloration. The vet will also probe the gums with a dental instrument to check for periodontal pockets, which can indicate advanced dental disease (https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/dental-disease-in-dogs).

In addition, dental x-rays are usually needed to evaluate the health of the tooth roots and surrounding bone. X-rays allow the vet to detect cavities, infections, and other issues that may not be visible on the surface. Using a small intraoral dental sensor, the vet takes multiple x-ray views to thoroughly examine each tooth (https://www.fourcornersvet.com/site/blog/2022/12/30/cavity-dogs).

By combining a physical exam with dental x-rays, the vet can determine if tooth decay is present, how severe it is, which teeth are affected, and whether any tooth roots are damaged. This information guides the treatment recommendations and determines if extractions are necessary.

Treatment Options

There are several treatment options for dogs with tooth decay depending on the severity of the problem. Some of the main treatment options include:

Tooth Extraction: If the tooth decay is very advanced, a dog tooth extraction may be necessary. This involves surgically removing the affected tooth/teeth under anesthesia. Extraction is often the best treatment when the tooth’s roots are severely infected or the decay is below the gumline. According to this article, extractions can range from $100 to $300 per tooth.

Root Canal: For less severe cases of tooth decay, a root canal may be performed to remove diseased tooth pulp and save the tooth. This involves drilling into the tooth, removing infected material, disinfecting, sealing/filling the tooth roots, and placing a crown. Root canals typically range from $800-$2,000. They have a good success rate but are more expensive than extractions.

Antibiotics and Anti-Inflammatories: Oral antibiotics like clindamycin and anti-inflammatory pain medications like meloxicam are often prescribed for dogs with advanced tooth decay. These help fight infection and reduce pain/swelling associated with severe dental disease. Antibiotics usually cost $15-$60 depending on the type and dosage required.

Post-Treatment Care

After your dog undergoes a tooth extraction procedure, there are several things you need to do at home for proper aftercare and recovery. Most vets recommend feeding your dog a soft food diet for 7-10 days after the surgery. This helps prevent any irritation or trauma to the surgical site while it is healing. Avoid feeding your dog hard kibble or treats during this time. Some good options are wet canned food, soaked kibble, homemade blends, or prescription dental diets made for post-op care.

Your vet will likely prescribe pain medication to keep your dog comfortable after the tooth extraction. It’s important to give this medication as directed to properly control pain and inflammation. Common medications prescribed include NSAIDs like Rimadyl or steroids like prednisone. Your dog may need to be on the pain medication for several days after surgery.

Antibiotics may also be prescribed to prevent infection after the tooth extraction procedure. It’s crucial to finish the entire course as directed, even if your dog seems to be feeling better. Stopping antibiotics too soon can allow bacterial infections to take hold, leading to serious complications.

Monitor your dog closely in the days following the tooth extraction and do not hesitate to call your vet if you notice signs of complication like bleeding, swelling, difficulty eating, or changes in behavior. With proper at-home care and recovery, your dog should heal well after a professional dental cleaning and tooth extraction.




Preventing Tooth Decay

The best way to prevent tooth decay in dogs is through regular at-home dental care. Daily brushing with veterinarian-approved dog toothpaste is highly recommended, as this removes plaque and tartar before it can accumulate and cause dental disease (Source). Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste made specifically for dogs. Brush along the gum line and all surfaces of the teeth. Make it a positive experience with praise and treats.

Dental chews can also help scrape away plaque when chewed regularly. Choose chews formulated to support dental health, like those containing delmopinol, an anti-plaque agent. Supervise your dog when eating any chews to prevent choking (Source).

Professional dental cleanings by your veterinarian every 6-12 months are crucial for removing tartar and detecting any underlying dental disease. More frequent cleanings may be recommended for dogs prone to rapid plaque and tartar buildup. Regular veterinary oral exams help spot problems early, when they are easiest to treat.

Cost of Treating Tooth Decay

The cost of treating tooth decay in dogs can vary widely depending on the severity of the decay and required treatment. According to https://www.ingleside.com/services/dogs/blog/how-much-does-dog-dental-care-cost, a basic teeth cleaning may only cost a few hundred dollars, but treatments like extractions can cost thousands of dollars.

For mild tooth decay that only requires a routine cleaning, costs typically range from $300 to $500. This covers anesthesia, the dental cleaning itself, and any minor follow-up care.

Moderate tooth decay that requires extractions in addition to cleaning can cost $800 to $1,500 on average. The number and complexity of the extractions significantly affects the overall cost.

For severe tooth decay where multiple teeth need extraction, costs often exceed $1,500. In the most extreme cases involving full mouth extractions, costs can be $3,000 and up.

According to https://www.pawlicy.com/blog/dog-teeth-cleaning-cost/, dog owners can expect to spend $300 to $700 for a basic teeth cleaning, not including treatments for advanced decay. The severity of decay is the primary factor driving costs up for tooth extractions and other intensive treatments.

When to Consider Extraction

There are certain severe dental issues that may require full tooth extraction as treatment. According to the ASPCA, the most common reasons for extraction are:

Severe infection: An infection at the root of the tooth can be very painful and dangerous if it spreads. Antibiotics may be tried first, but extraction is often necessary.

Advanced decay: If the decay is extensive and affects the tooth down to root, trying to save the tooth may not be possible. Extraction prevents further infection or damage.

Gum disease: Gum disease that loosens teeth or causes significant bone loss may also warrant extraction to prevent systemic issues.

In general, if the tooth is damaged beyond repair or poses a health risk, extraction is the best option. Your vet can examine your dog’s mouth and make an informed recommendation about any severely problematic teeth.

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