Dog Gum Diseases: An Overview

While the most noticeable symptom may be bad breath, dog gum disease can lead to more serious health problems. Check and maintain your dog's teeth and gums to prevent tooth loss and bacterial infections that can lead to kidney or heart disease. Regular, close inspection can help you spot dangerous dog mouth cancer, as well.

Gum Disease and Bad Breath

Poor dental hygiene can cause bad breath. Canned dog food can stick to the teeth, causing tartar and plaque build-up. Combat this problem by adding a good quality dry food to the diet. Hard, crunchy kibble and treats can help to scrape the teeth clean.

Dental chews are available as well; some of these have ingredients that help to freshen breath, and others are textured to clean the gum line.

Gingivitis Due to Tartar

Gingivitis is the most common type of dog gum disease. Red, inflamed gums are caused by the build-up of tartar, especially along the gum line. Gingivitis can lead to periodontics, a more serious condition that may cause tooth or bone loss.

Periodontal Disease

As tartar builds up along the gum line, pockets of infection may develop. As the pockets deepen, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and may contribute to more complicated health issues such as kidney or heart disease.

The infected bacterial pockets will, if untreated, loosen teeth and structures within the jaw. The risk of jaw fractures increases in dogs with severe periodontal disease.

Brushing Your Dog's Teeth

To keep your dog's mouth and teeth healthy, begin a routine dental hygiene regimen. Brush his teeth several times a week. Obtain a soft bristle brush and special canine toothpaste for your dog, cleaning mouth, gums and teeth. Concentrate your efforts on the back teeth and gum line, as these tend to accumulate plaque more readily than the front teeth.

Professional Cleaning

If there is severe tartar build-up on your dog's teeth, he may need a professional descaling. A veterinarian can remove plaque accumulations under general anesthesia. Once cleaned, a regular program of brushing will maintain your dog's teeth sufficiently.

Tips for Cleaning Teeth and Gums

During the cleaning, inspect your dog's mouth for any unusual growths. Melanomas-a dangerous, malignant cancer-can form in the mouth. If you notice any kind of bump or lesion, contact your veterinarian. Do not use human toothpaste or baking soda to clean your dog's teeth. Use a soft-bristle human toothbrush or special dog toothbrush and dog-specific toothpaste. These pastes are formulated to appeal to dogs and make your brushing efforts easier. You can brush with plain water, too, but the pastes contain polishing agents that help to remove plaque more effectively.