What is Enamel Hypoplasia and Hypocalcification?
Tan or darker brown discoloration on a dog's teeth may lead to pulpitis, the inflammation of tooth pulp. The results of tooth enamel malformation could be from decay, a blow to the mouth and extreme tenderness with or without eating. Poodles may be more likely to get the most likely case of soft enamel due to genetics: amelogenesis imperfecta.Just like in humans, dogs need their teeth taken care of. This includes regularly scheduled professional dental cleanings. If you notice your dogs teeth are discolored, pitted, or your dog is having difficulty eating, there's a chance your dog has enamel hypoplasia or hypocalcification.
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Symptoms of Enamel Hypoplasia and Hypocalcification in Dogs
Tooth enamel malformation in dogs is usually present in the puppy years of a dog's life, ranging between two weeks and three months of age. Usual signs of enamel malformation include:
- Digestive problems
- Morbillivirus species infections (canine distemper that causes a viral illness)
- Nutritional deficiencies
- One or more discolored teeth
- Parasites (roundworms, tapeworms, pinworms, whipworms, hookworms)
While both enamel hypocalcification and enamel hypoplasia both relate to teeth abnormalities, tooth enamel malformation linked to enamel hypocalcification is a discoloration that turns teeth from white to yellow or possibly brownish. However, enamel hypoplasia is a thin layer of hard enamel on top of the tooth that makes it chalky looking. It is possible for a dog to have both in its puppy years.
Causes of Enamel Hypoplasia and Hypocalcification in Dogs
Although it can be genetic for certain breeds (i.e., poodles), enamel defects are occasionally linked to trauma, including falling or being dropped. Incidents with other pets, such as seriously or playfully fighting, is a minor possibility.
The teeth will start off looking chalky and rough. Then they'll slowly transition into dark colors and then chip off with a bit of pressure. Genetics aside, infections, drugs, exposure to toxins or nutritional deficiency are also possibilities for tooth enamel malformation.
Diagnosis of Enamel Hypoplasia and Hypocalcification in Dogs
Dental radiographs are used by veterinarians to examine every tooth. Examining the root structure will let the veterinarian know just how fragile each tooth is, along with monitoring the location of major blood vessels, nasal cavity, nerves and nasal cavity before possible tooth extraction. The dog's eyes will also be taken into account when examining how close the enamel malformation is and whether odontoplasty (reshaping the teeth that were affected by tooth enamel malformation) would be a better option.
Veterinarians will look for signs of shell teeth -- ones with a minute amount of root structure --- along with which teeth are stained and need to be removed or which ones could be fixed by using ultrasonic cleaning. Depending on the state of the dog's mouth, removing the tooth altogether may be considered to avoid disrupting healthy enamel from nearby teeth. Although medication will be an option for dogs to relax during the examination, veterinarians will still be wary of focusing on damaged teeth too long. The more sensitive the teeth are, the more likely there could be additional damage. It's not uncommon for a veterinarian to give a tooth -- and the dog -- time to recover before examining certain teeth again, which are in worst shape than others.
Treatment of Enamel Hypoplasia and Hypocalcification in Dogs
Veterinarians will start off trying to see what can be saved of the tooth by using ultrasonic scaling and polishing to get rid of diseased enamel or any that sticks to the teeth but can be removed with pressure. Additional treatment includes teeth brushing and deep cleaning, odontoplasty and examining the teeth for signs of cavities to fill.
Teeth with severely thin or weak roots are most likely recommended for extraction to avoid endodontic (pulp) and periodontal (bacteria on the gums) mouth issues. The roots of teeth with significant enamel malformation should be removed altogether.
Some veterinarians will choose to remove the root and close the open socket (alveoli) as opposed to letting it naturally heal on its own the way some teeth are pulled, in order to expedite the recovery and lower the risk of a dog chewing or biting something hard that would irritate the area all over again. The latter option also helps to avoid the risk of dry sockets, usually common in humans after removing wisdom teeth or any others.
Recovery of Enamel Hypoplasia and Hypocalcification in Dogs
Soft or softened food is highly recommended after a simple or surgical tooth extraction. On top of not potentially injuring the tooth, it will also ease discomfort for the dog during the healing process of the gums. Depending on the dog, including ones with no teeth, kibble is small enough to be swallowed whole if the dog really would prefer dry food again.
Hard objects and toys should be removed altogether until the teeth are fully healed. In addition to daily cleaning at home, veterinarians recommend professional teeth cleanings and additional X-ray follow-ups to make sure no additional teeth were affected.
Enamel Hypoplasia and Hypocalcification Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
1 year and 9 month shepherd mix with enamel hypolpasia dye to distemper as a puppy. Had teeth cleaned 2 days ago and vet states 2 of the diseased teeth had enamel breaking off and I should start saving for extractions with future dental cleanings. Should I consult a specialist and have dental radiographs taken before we start extracting teeth?
Enamel hypoplasia can be seen by the naked eye by anyone as it is usually easily visible; extractions are the easiest and cheapest way of dealing with enamel hypoplasia but there are restorative options if the tooth is otherwise OK. Visiting a Veterinary Dentist would allow them to examine Thorin’s teeth and advise if there were any restorative options available to you. You may use the first link below to find a board certified Veterinary Dentist near you. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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13Month Akita with all 42 perm. teeth affected by severe pitted enamel. does not look like Hypoplasia,..but rather all teeth (clean/scaled) feel like sand paper
Normally when teeth feel like sandpaper it is due to plaque on the teeth; a scale and polish and changing to a kibble diet would help. Pitted enamel on teeth can be caused by congenital, infectious, nutritional and hormonal conditions. It may be worth visiting a Dental Specialist for an examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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