What are Congenital Dental Disorders?
Dental disorders can be difficult for owners to identify and it is most often through routine examinations that they are noticed by your veterinarian. If you have concerns regarding your pet’s dental health it is important to have him examined. Canines can be stoic when it comes to pain, and in some cases may not indicate the extent of discomfort that is felt.
Congenital dental disorders in dogs are conditions a pet is born with. These can be familial or genetic in nature. There are a range of conditions that can affect dogs, it is thought that this is due to the vast differences in skull shape and size between breeds especially in toy and small dog breeds, as well as intensive breeding over time.
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Symptoms of Congenital Dental Disorders in Dogs
The symptoms vary depending on the specific disorder the pet is suffering from. In many cases, the disorder increases the risk of periodontal disease, malocclusions, and bacterial penetration.
- Over crowding of teeth
- Difficulty swallowing
- Excessive salivation
- Tooth sensitivity
- Plaque and tartar buildup
- Displacement of the teeth
- Peridontal disease
Causes of Congenital Dental Disorders in Dogs
There are numerous congenital dental disorders in dogs, and certain conditions are over represented in different dog breeds. These include but are not limited to:
Hyperdontia – This is the condition of having teeth surplus to the number in normal dentition. It is thought that this occurs due to the over proliferation of the dental lamina during development. This can lead to overcrowding and malocclusions, an increased risk of periodontal disease and dysphagia.
Hypodontia – This condition can be caused by hereditary factors or disturbances during the development stage. There is an increased rate of this condition affecting dolichocephalic dogs (dogs with a long skull) such as Afghan hounds, Doberman Pinschers and English Bull Terriers.
Enamel hypoplasia – This can occur when a pregnant mother is given the antibiotic tetracycline. This defect causes either pitted or completely absent enamel, exposing the underlying dentin which is sensitive and porous, increasing plaque and tartar build up and bacterial penetration.
Retained deciduous teeth – This condition can occur when the periodontal ligament fails to detach from the deciduous tooth, causing the permanent canine tooth to erupt towards the front of the mouth and causing dental displacement. This can lead to malocclusions, an increased risk of periodontal disease and food entrapment. There is higher incidence of this disorder occurring in toy and small dog breeds.
Diagnosis of Congenital Dental Disorders in Dogs
Your veterinarian will look at your pet’s full clinical history and perform a full body examination. Your veterinarian will often be able to make a diagnosis through visualization alone, but in some cases, radiographs may be necessary to check the tooth root and bone health. As these conditions may cause dental disease your pet’s dental health will be assessed, the following stages are used when diagnosing periodontal disease:
- Stage 1 - Gingivitis is noted, with no attachment loss
- Stage 2 - 25% of attachment loss with early periodontitis noted
- Stage 3 - 25%–50% of attachment loss with moderate periodontitis noted
- Stage 4 - More than 50% of attachment loss with advanced periodontitis noted
Treatment of Congenital Dental Disorders in Dogs
The treatment required will vary depending on the dental disorder your pet is suffering from. If your pet is suffering from enamel hypoplasia your veterinarian may be able to offer a restoration to seal the teeth and provide a protective resin surface. In cases of hyperdontia, overcrowding can be corrected by selective removal of teeth. Retained deciduous teeth should also be removed. However, there is a risk of damage to the underlying permanent tooth bud, so care will be taken by your veterinarian around this area.
As these conditions predispose your dog to plaque buildup, gingivitis, halitosis, and periodontitis, a dental cleaning may also be necessary for your pet’s dental health. The procedure will be performed under general anesthetic by your veterinarian. If bacterial penetration has taken place systemic antibiotic therapy may be needed. Furthermore, in cases of tooth removal often antibiotics are given as a precautionary measure due to the high risk of infection.
Recovery of Congenital Dental Disorders in Dogs
The prognosis varies depending on the condition your pet is suffering from. To maintain dental health, it is important that your dog’s teeth receive regular brushing, your veterinarian can show you the best technique. Ideally, this will be performed daily.
Your veterinarian may discuss specially formulated dental health diets which are designed to prevent dental disease and reduce plaque. Toys and treats are also commercially available that are designed to mechanically remove plaque and decrease oral bacteria.
As many congenital dental disorders increase the risk of developing dental disease it is important to be vigilant with dental health. Taking your pet to the veterinarian for regular dental scale and polish procedures will help to keep their teeth in top condition.
Congenital Dental Disorders Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
Hi! We have a 6 month old puppy (Yorkshire Biro x Shih-tzu) who is changing her teeth and we noticed she has a malocclusion issue as her lower jaw overlaps the top jaw...Could you help me understand if this is this considered a congenital malformation? Thanks in advance for your help! Melanie
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We got a puppy less than 2 weeks ago and our vet suspects Lingually Displaced Mandibular Canines- Can you advise if the breeder has any responsibility for this ?
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tooth decay it is bothering him to eat and drink
If Bobby’s teeth are decayed to a point that it is causing discomfort to eat, the problem is irreversible and would probably require some dental work including extractions. It would be best for your Veterinarian to evaluate Bobby’s teeth to see the best way forward. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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