Symptoms of a Rotten Tooth With an Infection in a Dog

Updated November 21, 2016

Dental issues are common in canines. Although dogs get cavities less often than humans, a build-up of tartar along the gum line can cause the gums to recede. As a result, the dog can develop periodontal infections in their carnassial teeth that lead to the formation of abscesses, which are pus pockets under the gum line. This painful condition can cause serious illness if it is left untreated.

Carnassial Tooth Abscess

Although any tooth is susceptible to dental problems, the fourth premolar or carnassial tooth can cause the most problems because of its size. This tooth is found on the upper jaw. It is larger than the other teeth and has three roots instead of just one. Wild dogs use this tooth to tear up large chunks of meat or bone. Pet Education explains that a carnassial tooth infection usually affects the roots of the teeth rather than the exposed area.

Symptoms and Causes of Abscess

The symptoms of an abscess are bad breath, facial swelling, and a leakage of pus that breaks through the skin of the face or mouth. Additional symptoms include tooth discolouration, oral bleeding and an unwillingness to eat or chew anything crunchy or hard. If the infection is caused by trauma to the mouth, a broken or damaged tooth may also be visible. The dog may also rub at its face or chew only on one side of its mouth.

According to Pet Health and Care, abscesses are often caused by a bacterial infection in the body such as streptococcus or E. coli. The bacteria infects the root and cuts off the blood connection. This destroys the tissue around the tooth and the tooth becomes loose. The body reacts to the invasion of bacteria by amassing white blood cells, which leads to the formation of pus.

Diagnosis and Treatment

A veterinarian can diagnose abscesses or infected teeth by conducting a physical examination and a blood test. He may also perform X-rays to determine which tooth or teeth are infected. The dog may need to be anaesthetised to complete the examination and treatment, particularly if the animal is in a great deal of pain.

The doctor will drain the pus or fluid that surrounds the infected tooth. This will relieve the pressure on the root and drain the infection out of the body. The tooth is usually extracted by cutting it in half then pulling it out. The infected tissue may need to be removed as well to prevent reinfection. The tooth can also be treated with a root canal, but Pet Health and Care indicates that this process is expensive. The dog will need to stay on antibiotics for some time after the extraction or root canal is complete to eradicate any traces of infection.

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