What is Dental Disease in Dogs?

what is dental disease in dogs

Dental disease is a much more common condition in dogs than you might think. It can start developing as early as 2-3 years of age, and if a dental care regimen isn’t implemented to keep your dog’s mouth healthy, the condition can progress and cause permanent damage to the teeth and gums. Our blog aims to shed light on the issue of dental disease and dogs, with insight into what causes it, what the telltale signs are, and how to treat and prevent it. At West Loop Veterinary Care, we provide tailored, comprehensive dental care services to improve and preserve your companion’s oral health. Contact us at our West Loop location at (312) 421-2275 or our Streeterville location at (312) 766-5959 for more information or to schedule an appointment!

What Leads to Dental Disease in Dogs?

Poor oral hygiene is the catalyst for dental disease. It starts with plaque buildup that is allowed to accumulate along the gum line. Plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, forms on your pet’s teeth and without treatment, can eventually harden into tartar, which can only be removed by a veterinarian with the appropriate dental equipment. 

Other factors that can contribute to dental disease include genetics, diet, and a lack of regular dental care. But while certain breeds are more prone to dental issues, every dog, regardless of their breed or size, should have a dental care regimen to prevent plaque and tartar buildup. 

What Exactly is Dental Disease?

Dental disease is caused by the buildup of tartar on your pet’s teeth. This tartar secretes infectious bacteria into the mouth and in many cases, beneath the gum line, where infection takes root. This infection contributes to the breakdown of the supporting structures of the teeth and surrounding gums, causing gum recession, tooth mobility, and oral discomfort. The gums become red and swollen and may even bleed. Once the condition has advanced from the initial stage of gum inflammation (gingivitis), its effects can no longer be fully reversed. This is why total prevention of dental disease is so important for your dog. 

How to Identify Dental Disease Early in Dogs

Dental disease can cause a variety of clinical symptoms in dogs, though they are not always easy to discern. Dogs often hide discomfort and illness out of instinct, so it’s up to you and your veterinarian to know what to look for. Some of the telltale signs of dental disease in dogs include:

  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Red, swollen gums (sometimes they can bleed)
  • Difficulty eating (dropping food, awkward chewing, eating less)
  • Drooling more than normal
  • Rubbing or pawing at the mouth
  • Visible tartar buildup along your pet’s gum line (you’ll need to flip your dog’s lip to check for this)

If you observe any of these symptoms, it’s time to visit West Loop Veterinary Care for a dental checkup!

How We Can Diagnose and Treat Dental Disease 

At West Loop Veterinary Care, our team takes the following steps to properly diagnose dental disease in dogs and provide comprehensive treatment:

  • We start with a physical examination and an oral exam to determine whether your pet needs a cleaning and dental X-rays.
  • While your dog is under anesthesia, we check their teeth and gums more closely and obtain digital radiographs of their mouth to check for signs of damage below the gum line. 
  • To treat dental disease in dogs, we need to use scaling equipment to remove tartar and calculus from the crowns and roots of the teeth. We may also need to extract some teeth if they are loose or damaged. 
  • We administer antibiotics as needed to treat the infection and provide aggressive pain management if extractions are required. 

Preventing Dental Disease in Dogs

Dental disease is fully preventable in dogs, but it’s essential to begin their dental regimen early in their life. Start brushing your dog’s teeth daily to slow plaque buildup, and ask your veterinarian about tartar-control diets, dental-friendly treats and chews, and other options to keep your pet’s teeth clean. We are more than happy to offer advice that is tailored to your pet’s health and lifestyle. If you need a teeth brushing demonstration, just schedule an appointment and our team will show you! Regular dental checkups are especially important, as they allow us to carefully examine your pet and look for subtle, early signs of dental disease you may not notice.

Get Complete Dental Care for Your Pet at West Loop

West Loop Veterinary Care offers complete pet dental care services. Our experienced team provides thorough dental examinations, professional cleanings, and personalized advice. We understand each dog is unique, and we’re committed to providing the best dental care suited to your pet’s specific needs. 

Don’t wait for dental issues to arise. Call us at our West Loop location at (312) 421-2275 or our Streeterville location at (312) 766-5959 to schedule a dental check-up. Early detection and treatment are key to maintaining your dog’s dental health!


West Loop:
(312) 421-2275

(312) 766-5959