Dogs have teeth and unless we take good care of them they may lose them!
Daily brushing is best care but feeding appropriate diets and providing appropriate chews and treats will also help keep the teeth and gums healthy.
Puppies have 30 teeth, while adult dogs have 42. Usually the puppy dentition is replaced over about 4 months – the deciduous teeth being replaced by secondary teeth. Some of the dog’s secondary teeth develop from a tooth bud that does not have a primary precursor. These include the molars and premolar 1 in each quadrant. The first secondary premolar tooth to erupt is premolar 1 in each quadrant and the last teeth to erupt in the mandibles are the last molars (molar 3). In some breeds, the deciduous canine teeth do not undergo the normal resorptive process normally see during teething, and they persist in the mouth. This can cause severe problems that may include eruption of the secondary canine in an abnormal position. Persistent teeth that are close to the secondary tooth can trap food leading to periodontal disease.
The most commonly seen oral disease in dogs is periodontal disease and the prevalence increases with increasing age. Periodontal disease in its mildest form is known a gingivitis. This is inflammation of the gums, that can be resolved by daily tooth brushing. If not noticed early and treated the gingivitis can progress to periodontitis where the other three component of the periodontium become affected. These include: cementum on the tooth surface; periodontal ligaments which anchor the teeth to the bone; and the alveolus (also known as the tooth socket). When these structures are damaged the teeth will become loosened and eventually lost.
The most common dental disease in dogs is probably fractures of the crowns. When the crown is fractured and enamel is lost, dentine, the porous central part of the tooth that houses processes that are attached to the nerves, becomes exposed leading to pain and inflammation. Teeth that are broken should either be treated by root canal therapy or be extracted. To leave a fractured tooth in the mouth is not only painful, but will result in the formation of an “abscess” around the root of the tooth. This leads to more discomfort and may result in a swelling that may erupt through the skin of the face.
Dogs may also be affected by tooth resorption.