Dog dental problems are common, and according to dog-illnesses-n-symptoms.com, "a lot of the most serious health problems in dogs are related to their gums and teeth." Like their wild predecessors, whose survival depends on not showing weakness, some domestic dogs display a stoic attitude when they are hurt. Toothaches and their underlying causes often create a great deal of pain, but according to Dr. Guy Fyvie, "animals can't say how they are feeling and are good at hiding discomfort," your dog needs you to recognise the symptoms of toothaches and to know what to do to help alleviate the pain.
When there is something wrong with your dog's mouth or teeth, you may notice excessive drooling, nose scratching and pawing the face and mouth, all behaviours many dogs display when they feel pain. Listlessness is another symptom to watch out for.
A dog with a toothache may exhibit a change in eating habits and a reluctance or refusal to chew hard food or treats. Dogs may eat more slowly and will sometimes drop food that is too large or difficult to chew. You may notice that your dog is chewing on only one side of the mouth or flinching when you touch its tooth or mouth. Appetite loss may occur, and, if the pain is severe, some dogs may stop eating altogether.
Dogs with toothaches may be suffering from periodontal disease. You may notice red, inflamed gums, resulting from an increase in blood supply to the infected area and to the proliferation of white blood cells needed to fight infection.
Canine dental problems may cause swelling of unseen parts of the mouth, so it is important to check your dog's gums around the edges of the teeth and under the lips. Facial swelling may result from tooth root abscesses, and these abscesses resulting from periodontitis may rupture into the nasal cavity and cause swelling below the eye and a puslike discharge from one or both nostrils.
Other physical symptoms include: tooth discolouration, bleeding gums, loose teeth, bad breath, a swollen nose, pain or bleeding when you touch your dogs gums or mouth, plaque or calculus accumulation, abscesses, fistulas and facial swelling.
Dangers of Dental Disease
Symptoms of toothaches may be the result of periodontal disease, broken teeth, orthodontic problems and cavities, all of which affect not only your dog's mouth, but can lead to infections that create bacteria that is introduced into other parts of your dog's body. The bacteria that accumulates due to tooth decay can harm your pet's heart, liver and kidneys.
Prevention and Solutions
Look in your dog's mouth regularly, and if the gums appear red or inflamed, if there's a bad odour, or if you notice pus, broken teeth, facial swelling, discharge, or any signs of pain or discomfort, make an appointment to see your veterinarian.
You can reduce dental problems and the occurrence of toothache pain, by taking care of your pet's teeth with regular brushing, a proper and balanced diet yearly veterinary exams and professional cleaning when necessary, but dental care at home cannot correct the problem causing the toothache once it has developed. If your dog already has toothache symptoms, brushing will only increase the discomfort, so have the dental problem treated first and be sure to follow aftercare instructions. Once the dog's mouth is healing, you can begin a brushing regimen, but ease into it so your dog can get used to each new phase before moving to the next. Eventually, you should be brushing your dog's teeth daily "to remove plaque before it becomes firmly attached to the tooth surface and before it mineralises to become tartar," according to Fraser Hale, DVM of toothvet.ca.