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Cavities in Dogs



There are several stages for the treatment of dental caries:


  • Stage 1 or 2: remove carious dentin and unsupported enamel, then restore the crown with amalgam (the traditional treatment), bonded composite restorations, or insert replacements
  • Stage 3: treatment of the tooth pulp and root must precede restorative treatment
  • Stage 4 or 5: extraction may be the only treatment option. Deep pits on the surface of the maxillary first molar where it meets the other teeth will be filled with a pit-and-fissure sealant to prevent caries development


If the condition is categorized as incipient (beginning) caries, your veterinarian will apply a fluoride varnish, or a fluoride-releasing dentin-bonding agent. If it has progressed to root caries, your veterinarian will further examine the condition of the tooth to see if the gum disease can be managed, and the restoration placed above the gum. Restoration may be possible, but extraction will be the treatment of choice for most teeth with root caries. If only one root of a tooth with more than one root is carious, extraction of the affected root with treatment of the remaining root(s) is also an option. High-risk patients (such as those with very tight fitting teeth) will most likely need an application of a pit-and-fissure sealant on the remaining teeth. Sealant treatment is especially likely, and probably necessary, for the teeth that are in direct contact with the tooth, or teeth, that have already developed caries. Your veterinarian will help you to make a practical plan for modification of risk factors.


Living and Management


If your veterinarian has found it necessary to operate on one or more of your dog's teeth, you will need to return with your dog again at least six months later for a postoperative examination and radiograph, and then annually, or as the opportunity presents. It is important to commit to a regular routine of mouth hygiene, which includes brushing, and tooth strengthening chew toys and treats, since dogs that have been affected by this tooth condition will frequently have more than one incidence of caries. A healthy diet that is proportionately balanced in carbohydrates, and promotes a healthy pH balance in the mouth, along with regular checks on the teeth to monitor for new lesions (at least weekly), will go along way to helping your dog keep all, or most, of the teeth it was born with.



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