What is Discolored Teeth?
When a tooth fractures, the tissue inside may bleed, and bacteria can settle into the newly created space. This combination of bleeding and inflammation leads to tooth discoloration and decay. Though the discoloration itself is not harmful to your dog, it can be an indicator of a non-vital, or dead, tooth, which will need to be treated to alleviate pain and to prevent further complications.Discolored teeth most commonly occur following trauma, which may result in a tooth fracture. When the tissue that makes up the tooth's pulp bleeds, it leads to discoloration that may change from pink to brown or gray over time. Bacteria in the tooth can cause pain and may spread an infection to the bone, which is why a discolored tooth should be promptly treated even if your dog is not showing symptoms.
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Symptoms of Discolored Teeth in Dogs
A discolored tooth is characterized by abnormal coloration, which can range from pink or purple to tan or gray. A dog with a discolored tooth may be asymptomatic or may show signs related to oral discomforts, such as drooling or reluctance to eat. Because dogs often do not show pain, it is important that you bring your dog to the veterinarian as soon as you notice discoloration in a tooth, even if your dog is asymptomatic.
Causes of Discolored Teeth in Dogs
When a tooth is fractured, whether because your dog was chewing too hard or because of blunt trauma, the tissue inside may be damaged. The initial pink coloration is an indication that the pulp is bleeding. There is a small possibility that this will resolve on its own, but typically the inflamed pulp restricts blood flow in the tooth, leading to purple, brown, or gray coloration. If untreated, this can lead to the death of the tooth and infection in the bone.
Diagnosis of Discolored Teeth in Dogs
Discolored teeth are typically detectable through a visual examination. Dental radiographs may help determine the source of the discoloration and viability of the root though they do not reliably show signs of disease in the tooth's pulp. Since a decaying tooth can lead to further complications or pain if left untreated, most veterinarians recommend treatment even if the diagnosis cannot be confirmed.
Treatment of Discolored Teeth in Dogs
There are two types of treatment for discolored teeth: endodontic therapy and surgical extraction.Endodontic Therapy
Endodontic therapy, otherwise known as a root canal, involves removing the damaged pulpal tissue. Once the tooth has been cleaned and disinfected, it can be filled with material to prevent bacteria from re-entering the canal. This is a less invasive procedure than surgical extraction and allows the dog to keep the tooth, and it has a high rate of success. After the tooth has been refilled, it can be bleached to match the color of the other teeth for aesthetic purposes.Surgical Extraction
In cases where a root canal is not an option, the tooth may be extracted entirely. This is not typically recommended, however, as a decayed tooth requires major surgery for full removal. The roots of a dog's teeth often go deep into the bone and may be located near nerves or major blood vessels, making surgery more complicated and more painful for the dog.
Recovery of Discolored Teeth in Dogs
Your dog should recover quickly from endodontic therapy though the healing process may take longer following a surgical extraction. As with any surgery, it's important to provide your dog with a quiet place to rest during this time and provide him or her with softened food. This both helps with any discomfort and prevents your dog from accidentally disrupting any sutures. If the veterinarian prescribed antibiotics following surgery, administer the full course according to instructions.
You may need to bring the dog back to the veterinarian's office for follow-up exams. Depending on the success of the endodontic therapy, X-rays may be needed to confirm that the canal is entirely filled and to ensure that the area around the tooth root is not deteriorating.
Though fractured teeth are common in dogs of all breeds and ages, it is possible to help prevent them. Exercise or train your dog every day, tiring him or her out and reducing the urge to chew. If your dog is a big chewer despite this, talk to the veterinarian about recommended toys that are easier on the teeth.
Discolored Teeth Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
What should I do? I can't afford to take my dog to the vet if it is not serious. Struggling with money issues.
Discolouration of teeth may be caused by infections, food, medication or internal health issues. You have a few options: try to brush Riley’s teeth regularly (don’t use human toothpaste as the sweetener xylitol is toxic to dogs) to remove the film of bacteria and any from his teeth, switch from wet food to dry food, buy chew toys or treats that are specifically designed for oral health. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
Not soft diet? Where does a poor person go to get a tooth extracted if told by vet tooth is dead. How much foes it cost? Is root csnal chesper. Help with resl answer. How much?
See which veterinarian takes care credit program and also do a research in your state what programs they have that will help people that can't afford expensive treatments for pets. In California they have paws program and few more that will pay for treatment or at least help
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My dogs tooth is a little chipped on the bottom(I think from playing so hard) and it’s starting to turn like grey and the gums around it aren’t looking very good either, what should I do?
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My dog has a faint pink tooth and he does not show any signs of pain. I noticed this a week ago and my family thinks it is nothing and that dogs have strong teeth but I am worried he has pulpitis how do I know for sure without going to my veterinarian?
Whilst dogs do have strong teeth, trauma from eating and chewing (as well as blunt trauma) may cause bleeding within the tooth giving it a pink appearance which changes to a greyish colour over time. If Jesse’s tooth is pink it would be best to visit your Veterinarian as the viability of the tooth needs to be established with an x-ray; based on the x-ray a decision on treatment will be made. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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