Tooth decay in dogs is caused by the destructive activity of bacteria present in the oral cavity that accumulate on food debris due to irregular dental hygiene. [1]

This is one of the most common health problems in humans and pets, whose prevention is straightforward and cheap.

The absence of tooth decay treatment leads to permanent tooth damage, infectious processes, and tooth loss.

The following article analyzes the causes, pathophysiology, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of tooth decay.

What Causes Tooth Decay In Dogs?

  • Risk Factor For Tooth Decay In Dogs
  • Tooth Decay Development
  • Common Symptoms of Tooth Decay In Dogs
  • Proper Treatment of Tooth Decay

Risk factors For Tooth Decay In Dogs

Any dog that has teeth, even puppies, can have decayed teeth.

But the following factors accelerate the process of decay and worsen the condition of the teeth:

Foods Rich in Carbohydrates

This nutrient can stick and stay on the teeth for a long time.

Sugars are the primary food source of bacteria in the oral cavity, so their increased presence leads to faster bacterial flora growth.

Dental Position

Dog’s back teeth are more susceptible to decay (molars and premolars).

These teeth feature several roots, pits, and crannies, as well as numerous fissures that can catch food debris.

This makes them more difficult to maintain decay than their front teeth, which are flatter and easier to access. [2]

Dry Mouth

The oral cavity dries out due to insufficient water drinking and reduced saliva secretion.

Saliva washes away the food scraps from the mouth and neutralizes the acid produced by bacteria.

Poor Dental Hygiene

Regular oral hygiene effectively removes bacteria from the surface of the teeth, further neutralizes the mouth’s pH, and prevents the formation of dental caries in the dog. [3]

Tooth Decay Development

200 to 300 different strains of bacteria live in the oral cavity, and only a few of these species contribute to periodontal disease or dental decay (caries).

Dental plaque, a bacterial enclave that sticks to the tooth surface and produces particular bacteria, causes dental decay because it causes the irreversible solubilization of tooth mineral structure. [4]

Dental decay is primarily caused by Streptococcus mutants.

Several Lactobacilli bacterias have been linked to the development of the lesion. [5]

Tooth decay is a process that takes a long time and leads to the appearance of cavities, going through the following methods:

Enamel Demineralisation

White spots may develop on the tooth when acids erode the enamel because of the absence of minerals in the dental structures.

The white spots may disappear if the enamel is mended at this time as the tooth restores its minerals.

Enamel Decay And Forming of Cavities

When white spots occur, the tooth enamel may need to be restored to prevent further deterioration as the mineral loss progresses.

A cavity might start to develop, which could seem like a patch of light brown color on the tooth.

The tooth will grow a defect if untreated.

Once a cavity has been created, it cannot be healed without the use of a filling.

Dentine Desintegration

The pulp in the core of the teeth is covered by dentin beneath the enamel.

Dentin degrades significantly faster than enamel because it is a tinner layer. [6]

 If dental decay spreads into the dentin, it must be treated quickly to prevent it from spreading into the tooth’s pulp.

Pulp Damage

The pulp is the soft tissue located inside the tooth and contains nerves and blood vessels.

Once dental decay has reached the pulp, root canal therapy for the dog is likely necessary.

Common Symptoms of Tooth Decay In Dogs

The symptoms that your dog has will depend on the degree of damage to the tooth and its location.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Bad breath
  • Visible plaque on the teeth
  • Presence of white or brown spots on the teeth
  • Unusual drooling and difficulty chewing
  • Oral bleeding
  • Refusal of food
  • Swelling and pain around the tooth. [7]

If these symptoms in your pet are ignored, complications are likely to occur:

  • Weight loss
  • Agitation and insomnia
  • Abscess – limited purulent inflammation around the tooth
  • Tooth breakage and tooth loss. [8]

Proper Treatment of Tooth Decay

The level of tooth decay is diagnosed with a physical examination of the teeth.

For confirmation of the diagnosis, an X-ray of the jaw might be helpful. [9]

If only the tooth’s outer layers are affected, the vet will apply a fluoride wash or bonding agent to stop further deterioration and continue monitoring the area.

If damage to the tooth has created a cavity, it must be cleaned and sealed with a filling.

A replica of the tooth’s shape where the base is preserved – the root, is called а crown.

Crowns are placed when the lesion has spread to the level of dentin and even the pulp.

The use of anesthetics is most commonly practiced in this process, as the pulp contains a bundle of blood vessels and nerve endings, so the pain is enormous.

Rooth canal therapy is also proven as efficient and it thoroughly cleans the damaged tissue and preserves the healthy tooth residue. [10]

If the damage has reached stage 4 or 5, complete removal of the dog’s tooth is required.

Stopping the pathological process to other teeth and oral cavity structures can lead to the complications mentioned above.

What Causes Tooth Decay In Dogs?

Tooth decay in dogs is caused by development of bacterial colonies of food debris and leads to formation of acidic compounds that damage bone tissue.

This leads to many symptoms that can disrupt the dog’s daily life and create severe complications.

That is why veterinarians suggest care and hygiene for the teeth and regular check-ups.