Types of Dental Illness in Pets and Their Treatment

Dental diseases are very common in pets, especially those with long lives and those that chew a lot. This is why it’s important for pet owners to be aware of the different types of dental diseases that their dogs or cats might suffer from and how to treat them.


Periodontal disease is the most common oral disease in dogs and cats. It involves inflammation of the gums, bone loss, and infection. The gums become inflamed and swell up around the teeth. This can lead to:

Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums caused by plaque accumulation around the tooth roots. This results in redness, soreness, and bleeding when you brush your pet’s teeth, or they eat something that scrapes their gums. If left untreated, it can lead to periodontal disease.

Abscesses are painful sores that form near a tooth root. It may be caused by trauma or an infected tooth root. Tumors are abnormal growths on your animal’s soft tissue. These include lipomas (fatty tumors) and fibromas (connective tissue growths). They can grow anywhere on your dog or cat but often appear under their chin or on their lips as well as inside their mouths, where they may not be easily seen until it’s too late. 

Fractured teeth occur as a result of trauma, such as chewing hard objects like toys made out of plastic rather than rubber which would be more appropriate for them. 

Periodontal Disease

According to the AKC, 80 percent of pets show signs of canine periodontal disease as early as age two. Periodontal disease can be caused by bacteria that enter the gums and accumulate below the gum line. This creates a sticky substance called plaque that adheres to your teeth and damages them.

To prevent periodontal disease:

  • Brush your dog’s teeth at least twice a week to remove plaque while they are still young. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush or gauze wrapped around your finger if you don’t have one available.
  • Feed your dog food with dental benefits, such as dry dog foods made with hard treats (such as kibble), that help clean their teeth as they chew it down.

To treat periodontal disease:

  • Visit your veterinarian for an examination of their mouth so they can determine what treatment options would work best for them specifically. This may include antibiotics like Amoxicillin capsules or surgery.


The mouth of a pet may reveal a lot about its overall health. Poor dental hygiene is often suggestive of an imbalance in internal functioning, and it all points to one of two issues. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums. It can cause your pet’s gums to become red and swollen, bleed easily, and even lose their attachment to the teeth. This can lead to serious health problems such as heart disease, kidney failure, and even brain damage.

The most common cause of this infection is plaque buildup around their teeth due to poor diet or dental care habits. If left untreated, it can spread from the gums into deeper layers of your pet’s mouth until it reaches the bone level, where infections cannot be treated with antibiotics alone.

Abscesses & Tumors

An abscess is a pocket of pus that forms in the mouth. It is commonly caused by an infection in the gums. This can be due to dental disease or trauma.

Tumors are usually benign (noncancerous) growths on the lips, tongue, cheeks, or gums. They’re caused by an abnormal growth of cells and may occur following trauma to the mouth or as a result of a chronic dental disease like periodontal disease.

Dental epulises are growths or tumors that form in the mouth of your pet. A dental epulis might occur in your pet’s mouth as a smooth, glossy, or lumpy and ulcerated growth. To establish the degree of tissue damage, X-rays may be required. And a biopsy may be performed.

Fractured Teeth & Pulpitis

Fractured teeth, also known as cracked teeth, are a common problem in pets. They most often occur as a result of chewing on hard objects or biting down too hard on something. If you notice that your pet is chewing or biting more frequently than usual, this may be a sign that they have fractured their teeth. 

Fractured teeth typically require either root canal therapy or extraction depending on the severity of the fracture and whether or not it has caused the infection to spread to nearby tissues or organs (pulpitis). Root canal treatments involve temporarily covering up the pulp chamber with an artificial filling. Thereafter, the infected material is removed from inside the tooth until it is clean again. 

Common Treatments

Scaling and Polishing

Scaling and Polishing is a procedure that removes deposits on the teeth, including tartar and plaque. The procedure can be performed in a dentist’s office or by your pet’s veterinarian.

How does it work?

The surface of the tooth is very smooth, but under a microscope, you can see tiny pits or depressions on the surface of your pet’s teeth. Bacteria can build up and cause tartar buildup and gum disease. Using special instruments to remove these deposits is called scaling or polishing. It also helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

What are the benefits of scaling?

It cleans teeth and removes plaque from between teeth that brushing doesn’t reach. 

Root Planing and Curettage 

Root planing means cleaning the root surface of your pet’s teeth. If your dog or cat has periodontal disease, this procedure will help to remove plaque and tartar buildup. Curettage is scraping away pockets of old bone and tissue that have been lost due to periodontal disease. The result is clean, healthy gum tissue along the root surface of each tooth.

This procedure can be done in one visit, or it can be done over several visits, depending on how severe your pet’s condition is and whether they need implants or crowns.

Extraction and Tooth Removal

An extraction is a procedure where a veterinarian removes a tooth from your pet. There are several reasons why your vet might recommend tooth removal, including:

  • An abscessed tooth has caused severe pain and discomfort for your pet, making them reluctant to eat or drink.
  • A fractured or broken tooth can’t be treated with root canal therapy because the pulp inside has become infected and inflamed.
  • A fractured incisor (front teeth) won’t grow back, causing the bone around it to erode over time. This condition is known as “wiggle tooth” in dogs and cats but also occurs in other animals such as goats and horses.

Tooth removal is performed under general anesthesia so that your pet will not feel any pain during the procedure. Afterward, you’ll need to take precautions for their healing process to go smoothly by keeping their mouth clean post-surgery so no infection forms around where stitches were placed.

Pet dental treatments are very similar to what is done in human dental. Dentists are trained to treat pets and use the same equipment and tools as human dentists. If you want your pet to have a healthy mouth, he or she must get regular checkups at the vet’s office.

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