Can dogs develop cavities?

It really wasn’t so long ago that many people thought dogs couldn’t develop cavities—but they can and they do. More and more, cavities being diagnosed in dogs, through routine oral exams and the use of dental X-rays in veterinary practice.

The earlier these lesions are diagnosed the better. It’s a lot easier to try the problem while it’s still small, rather than when it’s abscessed and needing extraction or root canal. Early cavities involve damage to tooth enamel and dentin. Longer-term tooth decay results in pulp inflammation, infection, discoloration and death of the tooth. Some teeth fracture due to extensive tooth destruction, progressing to facial swellings or jaw misalignment.

Treatment for tooth cavities in dogs

Early tooth decay is detected with the explorer probe as soft enamel and dentin. It is essential to take and evaluate dental X-rays before deciding to treat or to extract these teeth. If the tooth is still vital it probably gets restored, but if it’s non-vital it may be treated by root canal therapy and then with a restoration.

Your veterinarian will determine the best way to proceed. If your veterinarian has found it necessary to operate on one or more of your dog’s teeth, you will need to return with your dog again at least six months later for a postoperative examination and X-ray, and then annually, or as the opportunity presents.

It is important to commit to a regular routine of mouth hygiene, which includes brushing, and tooth strengthening chew toys and treats, since dogs that have been affected by this tooth condition will frequently have more than one incidence of dental cavities. A healthy diet that is proportionately balanced in carbohydrates, and promotes a healthy pH balance in the mouth, along with regular checks on the teeth to monitor for new lesions (at least weekly), will go along way to helping your dog keep all, or most, of the teeth it was born with.

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