Normally there are only two reasons a dog’s teeth should happen to fall out. What are those reasons, you may ask?
The first reason is the same for all of us: trauma. Though it takes a lot to dislodge the strongest substance in the body, however, it is certainly possible. Of course, the second reason has to do with tooth decay or periodontitis.
Better known as gum disease, periodontitis is an infection of the gum or soft tissue that supports teeth. While the teeth themselves are very strong, this isn’t so solid and the same measure of decay can be drastic.
As the gum degrades, the dog’s teeth can loosen and ultimately fall out. A human dentist will say this is almost always the result of poor oral hygiene, but few owners (despite the desires of their veterinarian) will brush their dog’s teeth.
What are the Signs of Rotten Teeth in Dogs?
Other than the dog’s teeth actually falling out into your hands, warning signs can be subtle and easy to miss. In the case of bad breath, they aren’t difficult to miss at all! What symptoms can you see in your own pup?
Buildup of Tartar
Dental plaque consists of a film of sticky bacteria covering our (or our dog’s) teeth. If you look closely while you brush your own teeth in front of a mirror, you’ll be able to notice what looks like a blotchy film. As this bacteria is allowed to accumulate, it can solidify into dental calculus or tartar.
Cavities are caused by mineral decay, which in turn is caused by acids created as bacteria eats away at sugars in the mouth. In most cases, these can only be seen by a dental hygenist/veterinarian under examination, but you might notice your dog refusing to eat solid foods.
Yellowing or brown discoloration along a dog’s gum line is a nice indication something has been working its way at your pup’s teeth! In other words, there is likely some plaque and tartar buildup.
Dogs aren’t known for their good breath, but most of the time it isn’t rancid (unless something undesirable was eaten). Sure, it might be more common for puppies to have bad breath sometimes, but an adult shouldn’t make you want to vomit.
Horrible breath is usually a sign that something else is going on you want to get looked at. In fact, bad breath, in general, can be a product of all of the bacteria in your pup’s mouth.
How to Tell if Your Dogs Rotten Teeth are Falling Out
If your pet isn’t letting you touch one side of his face or his mouth, whereas he did before, you could have a tooth decay problem causing your pup pain in that area.
Immagine our dog refusing to chew solid foods. If all you can or have to feed is solid, dry meals, this can lead to an enormous nutritional issue. If chewing causes pain, this could be an obvious sign of tooth decay o some other type of oral problem.
You can offer wet food, or soften your pet’s dry food with water, but the results are twofold. Your pup will have an easier time eating, but the lack of mechanical chewing combined with sticky, moist eating can lead to increased bacteria.
Blood in the Food/Water Bowl
If you’ve noticed blood in the food bowl after your pet eats, or maybe a little bit of blood on that bone he’s playing with, there might be a bigger issue at work in that mouth. Is your dog having trouble picking up or carrying things?
Consequences of Neglecting Your Dog’s Teeth
Just like humans, neglecting a dog’s dental hygiene can have severe consequences! Believe it or not, studies have shown periodontal disease in both dogs and humans can lead to several other diseases or disorders.
Oral mouth/tooth pain is only a symptom of something worse, and quite possibly one of the lesser problems you will have to worry about. Even so, tooth pain can lead to difficulty chewing and eating in general. Have you noticed your pup pawing or rubbing at his mouth?
Tooth Decay & Loss
If allowed to go on long enough, you could face a cavity problem (which can cause pain and difficulty chewing) leading to those teeth falling out. Gum disease can lead to tooth loss, among other advanced disorders.
What to Do if my Dog’s Teeth are Rotting?
If your dog’s teeth are rotting and extensive damage already is present, you’ll need to get him or her to your veterinarian. No matter how you brush, it’s almost impossible to get underneath that gum line, and the existing damage needs to be treated by a professional who can get everything.
Unfortunately, your pup will probably be put under, and those teeth might need to be pulled in order to prevent any further damage. But look at the bright side! You took care of the problem so your pup can continue to feel great!
It’s important the dog is treated as early as possible to prevent your problems from worsening.
Dental Disease in Dogs
Believe it or not, dental disease is one of the very most common problems seen by vets in the United States! Out of all dogs over three years, over 80% have some degree of dental disease. Most dogs do not show any symptoms until the disease has progressed to the point of becoming a major medical problem.
The physiology is very close to human oral structure, and dogs are able to suffer many of the same diseases in that area (and many of the same diseases in general) that humans can. With dogs, tooth decay and dental disease are called Periodontal disease.
The tissue surrounding the tooth is called the Periodontium, consisting of the gingiva, cementum, periodontal ligament, and alveolar bone. Gingivitis, or inflammation of the gingiva, is the beginning sign; your dog’s gums are swollen and discolored. You might see darker spots upon inspection.
If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontal disease. It’s been estimated that over ⅔ of all dogs over three suffer from some stage of periodontal disease.
Plaque in Dogs
A mouth is a home to thousands of various bacteria! When you (or your dog) eat, the bacteria multiply and form a sticky, filmy layer (biofilm) on the surface of the teeth. If it isn’t brushed clean, these deposits can solidify and form tartar (calcified deposits contributing to tooth decay).
Very few owners brush their dog’s teeth regularly, which is why periodontitis is so common in dogs over three years of age. Unfortunately, plaque will begin to form in a clean dog’s mouth after 24 hours.
How to Treat Gum Disease in Dogs
Look at the symptoms below, and each general stage of dental disease in dogs they correspond with. Thankfully, stage one, gingivitis, only equivocates to inflammation and is reversible! Of course, you’ll have to take your pup in for a dental cleaning, to see your veterinarian, and follow further advice given.
Stage 2-4 aren’t reversible without synthetic implants involving surgery, which is very costly. Gum tissue doesn’t regenerate, and once the teeth are gone, they can’t be put back in place or regrow. The surgery itself, involving implants, is questionable because there is a chance the implants might not stay in place.
There still is some good news! With the right kind of treatment and care, dogs with dental disease stage 2 or 3 won’t necessarily progress to stage four.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease in Dogs:
- Red, puffy gums
- Bleeding gums
- Bad breath
- Receding gums (stage 2)
- Tooth loss (stage 3)
- Tooth root exposure (stage 4)
- Loose/missing teeth (stage 4)
- Oozing pus/infection (stage 4)
Stage One: No medical/veterinary treatment is needed at this first stage, but you’ll need to brush and care for your pup’s teeth daily to prevent any worsening conditions.
Stage Two: Dogs suffering from stage two periodontal disease will need a professional cleaning from a veterinarian in order to prevent any progression. During the cleaning, this veterinarian will deeply clean any periodontal pockets while applying antibiotic gel. This will help close the pockets, as well as help to prevent any further damage.
Stage Three: Stage three requires more advanced restorative methods, while your veterinarian will help develop a specialized plan for future care. The alternative is tooth extraction.
Stage Four: Your dog’s teeth will need to be extracted (removed) around the infected area. These teeth would be severely diseased, causing quite a bit of pain.
Cost of Dental Care
You might be willing to go to absolutely any lengths for your pet, but the cost is always a factor (especially when that cost is high). Stage one or two might cost a little more than a regular dental cleaning! Stage one is very commonly seen by all veterinarians, as you have read above. You may be looking at a few hundred USD.
Stage three and four, however, are likely to run in the thousands. Stage four requires surgery, and even a small surgery can be extremely expensive. Thankfully, there are many insurance options for pets, especially these days!
Preventing Plaque and Tartar
The first, most obvious choice would be to brush your pet’s teeth. At first, this sounds pretty tricky, but you can and many have trained their dogs to allow them to clean their teeth with specialized toothbrushes and special toothpaste made for pets.
The mechanical chewing action, such as that of a dog with his bone, will help to break up some plaque to a certain degree. Offering plenty of (safe) bones to chew on would be a good idea. Many special dog chews exist for this exact problem, helping prevent plaque buildup in your dog’s mouth.
Veterinary Oral Health Council
This specialized group of veterinarians will apply their mark of approval only on products that have been shown and proven to help reduce the buildup of plaque on your pup’s teeth. Look for this seal on products you are considering!
Professional Dental Cleanings for Dogs
You will receive a full set of x-rays of your pup’s mouth. Your veterinarian will be able to scale your dog’s teeth both above and below the gum line, effectively removing both plaque and tartar from the pup’s teeth.
After that, your dog’s teeth will be polished, and your veterinarian will probe around each one of the teeth, checking for any unusual pocketing.
How to Care for Your Dog’s Teeth
So, in the end, what is the best way to take care of your dog’s teeth? How can you best prevent plaque from forming, turning into tartar, and resulting in gum disease?
Step One: Brush your dog’s teeth. It might require some training to build up your pup’s sense of security enough to allow you to touch his or her teeth, but the actual process isn’t hard at all and only takes time!
You’ll need to use a specialized toothpaste designed for animals, as human toothpaste contains toxic ingredients. You can see an in-depth article here.
Step Two: Give your dog dental chews, or bones to chew on, approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council. The actual mechanical action of chewing itself will help to prevent plaque from forming and will help break up the plaque that does.
Step Three: Attend regular dental checkups (for your dog). It is all but impossible for any owner to clean below the gumline since this would be extremely uncomfortable for an alert animal. Your veterinarian will be able to examine each tooth closely, reach around each tooth, see things you might never notice yourself, and clean below that gumline. If ever in doubt, remember it is always better to attend to any dental problem quickly!