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Avoiding dental trauma - what makes a happy mouth?

Simone Kirby, Dentistry Lecturer from the RVC spoke about canine dentition at the Kennel Club's 2016 Breedwatch Education Day.

The risks of trauma to teeth:

Tooth fractures are more common in younger dogs. Canines fracture due to play behaviours. Premolar and molar fractures are usually caused by chewing sticks, bones, nylon toys, antlers and cow hooves. Read more about the risks of giving dogs antlers and hooves.

Untreated, tooth fractures can result in an abscess. Extraction or root canal treatment is required.

Blunt trauma – “pink tooth” – can cause bleeding inside the pulp. The pulp then dies off and needs the same treatment as an open fracture.

Abrasion – slow wear: Tennis balls are the number 1 culprit, but any toys on the beach are also problematic due to the presence of sand. Abrasion trauma is mild in many dogs, but more common in terrier-types.

Avoiding dental trauma – advice…

The canine mouth:

Puppies are born without teeth; primary dentition erupts at 3-4 weeks and is completed by 2-3 months. Puppies have 28 teeth. Adult teeth start to come through between 3-7 months – incisors come first, canines erupt at 4-5 months and there will be mixed dentition during the changeover period.

Normal dentition is a scissor bite and full adult dentition is 42 teeth. In general, malocclusions should be treated as a cause of pain.

Cosmetic variations are not an issue from a medical perspective, compared with dogs intended for showing, where Breed Standards will be quite specific about requirements and faults.

Periodontal disease:

70% of dogs over 3 years are affected to some degree. This includes infection of the jaw bone. It is multi-factorial, related to bacteria in plaque, oral hygiene, nutritional deficiencies, genetics and stress.

With gum recession and heavy tartar coverage, the tooth root becomes mobile. This is not always recognised by owners.

Is tartar removal enough? Probably not; you can miss disease under the gum-line. Vets really need to probe under the gum line and use x-rays under GA. X-rays will identify periodontal pockets.

Treatment includes extractions, scale/polish, pocket treatments, Prevention – daily tooth brushing is the gold standard.

Prevention – daily tooth brushing is the gold standard.

You can read more about Simone's presentation here where she describes what makes a happy canine mouth.

The advice on safe toys is provided by DentalVets.

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