Say Cheese

The holidays are nearing and it’s time for family pictures. You gather everyone and park them in front of a festive backdrop to orchestrate the cutest photo possible. The dog goes in front because who doesn’t love a big happy grin? “Say Cheese!” you yell as you dart back into your spot and let the camera’s timer do its thing. You sort through the pictures later that night, hot cocoa in hand and pup at your feet. You stop mid swipe as you notice that someone very important has yellow teeth.

Let’s talk dental health. The first thing that comes to mind in regards to poor dental health is generally yellow teeth. But that’s merely a symptom of something else, and a sign that your pet needs some attention from your vet. There are a few different areas that have potential cause for concern when it comes to inside your pet’s mouth, including periodontal disease, feline stomatitis, dental caries, broken teeth, enamel hypoplasia, supernumerary teeth, malocclusion, and those discolored teeth from your family photo. As always, the best care is preventative care which is why it is highly recommended that your pet have an annual dental check up. If you can’t remember your pet’s last visit, it’s probably time. Give us a call and we’ll schedule one at your earliest convenience. Now let’s get down to business.

Periodontal Disease 

Periodontal disease is arguably one of the worst and most prevalent of all potential issues. In fact, most dogs and cats will show some sign of this disease by the age of three. Just like humans, when dogs and cats eat, the particles of food build up on their teeth to form plaque. Humans take a toothbrush and some floss to their teeth and call it a day, but your pet needs a little assistance in that department. If the plaque builds up enough, it will mineralize and harden to form calculus. From there, bacteria can make its way into the bloodstream, kidneys, or even the heart. The most common sign of periodontal disease also happens to be the one most frequently overlooked. Bad breath is a sign of something more going on in the mouth. Beyond that stinky dog breath, other signs include gum recession, bleeding in the gums, tooth loss, and infected teeth. Along with these, your pet can be experiencing significant pain. If you think your animal is showing any of these signs, call and make an appointment today. Prevention here is key. That includes annual dental exams with cleanings to ensure your pet’s teeth and gums stay as healthy as possible, as well as to identify any potential issues. Equally important is establishing a solid foundation of at-home care. Brush your dog’s teeth with canine specific toothpaste. A popular idea is the use of dental treats, but make sure they supplement both the brushings and exams instead of replacing them.

Feline Stomatitis

Cats want to be camera ready too! Well… they at least want happy and healthy teeth! Feline stomatitis is a condition of the oral cavity in which the gums become inflamed and grow over the teeth. Difficulty chewing, bad breath, profuse salivation, and inflamed lips are all symptoms. If not treated, this can spread to the back of the throat, making swallowing difficult and uncomfortable. The exact cause of this is unknown, but having a solid groundwork of dental care can slow any recurrence.

Dental Caries

Every human’s least favorite thing to hear when they go to the dentist. You guessed it! Cavities. Your pets get them too, though rarely. Dogs and cats carry a uniquely high pH of saliva, which seldom results in cavities. However, when they do occur, they too must go to their veterinarian dental specialist and get a filling. One of the things we look for in the annual dental exams are signs for any potential cavities.

Enamel Hypoplasia

Severe malnutrition and fluorine toxicity, as well as the distemper virus can cause something called enamel hypoplasia, which is the incomplete development of the outer layer of enamel that surrounds the crown of the tooth. Teeth that have a coarse texture and a stained brown color are indicative of this. The absence of the enamel makes the teeth especially vulnerable to decay and fractures. Puppies and kittens that are suffering from enamel hypoplasia can have an enamel restoration by a veterinary dental specialist.


When the teeth don’t properly line up between the upper and lower jaws, your pet has either a brachygnathism or a prognathism. Or simply, they have an overbite or an underbite, respectively. These traits are inheritable and can lead to dental and jaw problems if their normal biting action is interrupted. This can be detected as being a potential issue as early as eight weeks at their annual dental exam.

Broken teeth, yellow teeth, and extra teeth… oh my!

Let’s talk teeth. Like people, the mouth is a focal point of health in your pet’s body. Having a healthy mouth starts with having healthy teeth. Some dogs and cats are born with supernumerary teeth, or extra teeth. These teeth are either retained deciduous teeth or permanent ones that are crowding the others, potentially causing abnormal eruption pathways. Because of their close proximity to the other permanent teeth, they serve as additional hosts for calculus and bacteria to build. In most cases, the teeth are deciduous and no action needs to be taken. If normal biting action is interrupted however, removal is recommended. Another thing that can happen is the breaking or fracturing of a tooth. This can be because of trauma or disease, but if the pulp cavity of the tooth is exposed, inflammation, infection, or pain can result. This can be fixed with a visit to your veterinarian dental specialist and a root canal. Aside from extra teeth and broken teeth, teeth can become discolored. Teeth could be yellow, brown, or even bluish-gray. Brownish discoloration could be the result of enamel hypoplasia, whereas bluish-gray could be a sign of inflammation within the pulp cavity.

Now let’s get back to those family photos. Your dog has yellow teeth! All the possibilities of what this could mean run through your head as you simultaneously reach for your phone to make an appointment for a dental exam. You can retake those family photos once you know your pet is as happy and healthy as can be.

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