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Why Do My Dog's Teeth Need to be Extracted?
Table of Contents
1) Do Dogs Need Teeth Extractions Because of Cavities?
2) Five Reasons Why Your Dog Needs His Teeth Extracted
3) But My Dog's Teeth are Fine!
4) Poll: Did your dog get teeth extracted?
5) For Further Reading
Do Dogs Get Teeth Extractions Because of Cavities?
So your vet said your dog needs a dental extraction. Whether he told you upon examining your puppy's teeth or while he was performing a routine dental cleaning on your adult dog and you had to make a quick decision so to allow for the extractions, you may be wondering why would a dog need an extraction in the first place? There are several reasons, depending on your veterinarian's findings.
Do Dogs Get Cavities as Humans do?
In humans, cavities are the number one reason for tooth decay and extractions. Indeed, cavities start as early as in childhood and will pester humans for their entire lives especially if teeth aren't taken care of properly. In dogs, not so much. There are several reasons why dogs don't get cavities as much as humans do. Of course, a primary reason is the fact that dogs don't consume as much sugary foods as humans do. But there's more to that. Turns out the bacteria in the dog's mouth are less likely to build up harmful acids, the shape of a dog's teeth makes them less hospitable to bacteria, and last but not least, the life span of dogs is much shorter than humans allowing less time for bacteria to accumulate and cause damage.
However, rare doesn't mean impossible, according to an article on PetMd, a 1988 study published in the Journal of Veterinary Dentistry, showed that 5.3 percent of dogs aged 1 year or older had one or more caries lesions. You may wonder though what causes cavities in the first place dogs if they do not eat sugars? Carbs are often to blame as the presence of bacteria fermenting carbohydrates on the surface of a dog's teeth is ultimately what leads to the formation of acids responsible for removing minerals form the enamel and dentin.
Some dogs are more prone to cavities than others, such as dogs with small mouths and overcrowded, tight-fitting teeth, dogs with poorly mineralized enamel, dog with lower salivary pH and dogs fed diets high in fermentable carbohydrates. What do dogs cavities look like? They most likely, appear on the surfaces of the dog's molar teeth and appear as discolored lesions. A picture though is worth 1000 words and Animal Dentistry and Oral Surgery Specialists offers several pictures on their website.
So if not Cavities why are extractions performed?
While a small percentage of dogs get cavities, extractions in dogs are more often carried out because of other much more common dental conditions. This doesn't necessarily mean your dog's teeth are free of cavities, it means only that there are more common causes. So if your vet told you your dog's teeth need extracted, we will see more common causesof teeth extractions in dogs in the next paragraphs.
But my dog's teeth look fine!
A common reaction by pet owners when told a dog's teeth needs extracted, is defensive. "But my dog's teeth look fine!" or "my dog doesn't have pain.' When you look at teeth, it's often like looking at the tip of the iceberg. Many “bad” teeth don’t really look all that bad because it’s hard to predict what’s happening underneath the gum tissue, explains veterinarian Patty Khuly. Often, the extent of decay can only be assessed once each tooth is individually examined and X-rayed. On top of that, dogs can be quite stoic in showing pain or the pain signals may not be readily recognized by dog owners because they are subtle.
Preventative dental care reduces the risk of developing oral disease, which can lead to serious issues for dogs. Establishing a daily routine of proper dental care may extend the life of your pet. Veterinarian-recommended Nylabone Advanced Oral Care Foaming Tartar Remover is an easy-to-use spray that helps clean your dog's teeth.
Five Reasons Why Your Dog's Teeth Need Extracted
Why do dogs need teeth extracted? Obviously, your vet is the best person to ask why your dog's tooth needs extracted, as this can vary on a case to case basis, but if you were wondering in the meanwhile or were just curious, we will see more common causes of teeth extractions in dogs below.
1) Retained Baby Teeth
In puppies, a common reason for extractions is retained baby teeth. As the puppy grows, just as in children, his baby teeth should fall out, but sometimes things may not go as planned. A puppy may therefore have permanent teeth coming in at the same time as the baby teeth are there. Because the baby teeth are in the way, they may cause problems with alignment that may have a long-term negative repercussions on the dog's bite, sometimes even causing malocclusions . When there are retained baby teeth, veterinary dentist Dr. Juriga applies the "two tooth rule", meaning that the retained baby teeth need to be extracted.
2) Overcrowded Teeth
Sometimes, dogs have mouths that are overcrowded with teeth. This is often seen in small dogs with small mouths. Curiously, studies show that the smaller the dog,the larger their teeth are in proportion to their mouths, compared to the teeth of larger dogs. When they are overcrowded to such an extent that no gum tissue is between them, an extraction may be recommended so to reduce the risk for problems such as periodontal disease.
3) Misaligned Teeth
While in some dog breed standards, a misaligned bite is the norm, the issue can become more than cosmetic if it's extreme. When a misaligned bite, also known as a malocclusion, affects a dog's chewing ability and causes pain, the issue may need to be corrected. Things get particularly problematic when a tooth starts rubbing against the roof of the mouth causing pain and lesions. In such a case, the vet won't likely prescribe braces, but an extraction can sometimes be helpful.
4) Tooth Fractures
If your dog has a fractured tooth, it may need an extraction if the fractures extends below the gum line and the pulp is exposed. When the pulp is exposed, it's vulnerable to mechanical, and bacterial insult which will result in inflammation, not to mention intense pain. Left untreated, the exposed pulp will develop a bacterial infection, that often leads to a stabbing, throbbing pain likely similar to the dental pain humans face. When the pulp dies, the pain may subside as dead tissue sends no pain signals, but bacteria and their toxins will continue to ooze out, now leading to a different type of chronic pain that will cause the dog to avoid chewing on. Not always do facial swellings or a draining fistula appear. How did your dog fracture his tooth? A common type of fracture is a slab fracture which occurs when your dog forcibly bites down on some hard object, causing a tooth section to come off. Treatment involves root canal therapy or extraction.
5) Periodontal Disease
Periodontal diseases is estimated to affect 80 percent percent of dogs by the age of 3. So it's not surprising if your vet has recommended an extraction if your dog's teeth were found to be severely affected. Left untreated, periodontal may cause significant bone loss, soft tissue loss along the teeth roots and the gums to recede often causing teeth to loosen, making tooth extraction the only option to restore oral health and prevent neighboring teeth from also being affected.
Does your dog need an extraction? If you are debating on this and concerned about removing teeth, think again. Dogs have 42 teeth in their mouths and if they just need a few extractions, the main difference they'll likely notice is no longer having those painful teeth bothering them. Many dogs become more active and happier once the problem teeth are removed. If you are planning to get your dog's teeth extracted and are worried, the best bet is to have it done by a board-certified veterinary dentist. There are not many vets specialized in dentistry, so if you are fortunate enough to have one near you, it's a good idea. You can find a veterinary dentist near you by visiting the American Veterinary Dental College website.
Disclaimer: this article is not to be used as a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If your dog is having dental problems please see you vet. By reading this article, you automatically accept this disclaimer.
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Did your dog ever need his teeth extracted?
For further reading
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- Dog Bite Conformation: Occlusions and Malocclusions
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