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Do Dogs Show Dental Pain?

People complain to their dentist about dental pain.

Yet these same people are walking around, going to work … no one would know they have dental pain unless they said so.

Dogs can’t talk, they don’t know that the painful problem can be fixed, and they are much more stoic than people. 

So dogs mostly hide dental pain.

If your dog shows any signs of dental pain, it’s time for a visit to your veterinarian ASAP!

The Link Between Dental Pain and Infection

With time and inflammation, painful dental problems become infected and dental infections become painful.

Bacteria from dental infections enter the bloodstream and can infect other parts of the body.

Professional dental care that includes dental x-rays is needed to treat the pain and infection.

Does My Dog Feel Dental Pain or Infection?
  • The pain nerves of the teeth and gums of dog and people are the same.
  • Anything that would make your teeth or gums hurt will make your dog’s teeth or gums hurt.
12 Signs of Dental Pain and Infection in Dogs

1. Persistent bad breath is often a sign of dental infection. Bad breath in dogs is easy to notice because they pant. But all “dog breath” jokes aside, persistent bad breath is not normal!

2. Tartar and infected gums. Notice the brownish-yellow tartar and red swollen gums (gingivitis). Definitely time for a dental cleaning!


3. Broken tooth. Compare the broken lower fang tooth (arrow) with exposed nerve to the normal fang tooth on other side. The broken tooth must be extracted or have a root canal to avoid lifelong pain.

4. GUM DISEASE: RECEDING GUMS, OVERGROWN GUMS, swollen gums, red gums, gums that bleed easily

5. TARTAR: MORE TARTAR ON ONE SIDE OF MOUTH; the side with the heavier tartar isn’t being used because it hurts.

6. RELUCTANT TO EAT, especially dry food / eating slowly / dropping food


7. SWELLING ON FACEoften caused by tooth root abscess

8. MOUTH SHY (doesn’t like mouth or face touched) / facial tension / eyes distracted

9. FREQUENT SNEEZING / frequently licks nose … this is what dogs do when they have a runny nose

10. DROOLING

11. RUBBING FACE / PAWING FACE

12. BEHAVIOR CHANGES: SLEEPING A LOT / GROUCHY / restless / neediness or hiding / avoidance or aggression

  • Dogs mostly show NO SIGNS of their dental pain and infection.
  • That’s why your dog needs to visit your veterinarian every year for a complete dental examination.
  • A complete dental examination includes dental probing and dental x-rays so must be done under anesthesia.
  • Dental x-rays are the only way to find causes of dental pain and infection that are hidden under the gums.
  • WHAT ARE COMMON CAUSES OF DENTAL PAIN AND INFECTION IN DOGS?

Three Common Causes of Dental Pain and Infection in Dogs

BROKEN TOOTH
  • If the nerve (pulp) is exposed, the dog will be in constant pain until the tooth is treated by extraction or root canal.
  • Broken back teeth are almost always caused by hard chew toys and treats.
  • Broken front teeth are usually caused by biting at hard things, like wire fences and crates.
CROOKED OR CROWDED TEETH
  • Crooked lower canine (fang) teeth poke into the roof of the mouth, causing pain.
  • Both baby and adult canines can erupt crooked.
  • “Stuck” baby teeth that don’t fall out can make adult teeth erupt crooked.
  • Crowded teeth are hard to keep clean, which increases the risk of gum disease.
GUM DISEASES
  • Dogs get gingivitis (infected gums) and periodontitis (bone loss) like people do.
  • Gingivitis can cause receding gums.
  • Periodontitis (bone loss) is when infection destroys the supporting bone around the teeth.
  • Especially in small dogs, untreated bone loss around teeth can result in a broken jaw or holes in the roof of the mouth that can even go into the nose.
  • Overgrown gums (the gums grow up around and even over the teeth) create lots of places for bacteria to hide and cause infection that can spread to the bone.
BROKEN TOOTH
  • If the tooth nerve (pulp) is exposed, the dog will be in pain every day until the tooth is treated either by extraction or root canal.
  • The exposed nerve gets infected and the infection spreads to the root, causing a root abscess.
  • Discolored teeth, chipped teeth, worn teeth, and teeth with severe bone loss can develop abscessed roots.
  • Broken upper back teeth are almost always caused by hard chew toys or treats.


To see how treating broken teeth helps dogs, please see the True Stories page.

CROOKED OR CROWDED TEETH
  • Crooked lower canine (fang) teeth poke into the gums or the roof of the mouth, causing a lot of pain.
  • Crowded teeth can hit each other, causing pain, and are hard to clean so are at increased risk for gum diseases.
  • People whose crooked or crowded teeth hit each other can get headaches from the dental pain.
  • Treatment is moving, reshaping, or extracting the teeth.

To see how treating crooked teeth and crowding helps dogs, please see 
the True Stories page.

GUM DISEASE
  • Gingivitis: gum infection

  • Overgrown gums (gums grow up around teeth) or Receding gums (gums shrink away from teeth)

  • Periodontitis: when infection destroys the supporting bone around the teeth, can cause infected pockets and tooth loss

To see how treating gum diseases helps dogs, please see the True Stories page.

Brushing your dog’s teeth takes less than a minute per day and is just as important for your dog as it is for you. If chews, toys, and kibble worked as well as a toothbrush, wouldn’t people be using them, too?

Visit ToothBrush Training™ and Dental Care Products for more info!

GUM DISEASE
  • Gingivitis: gum infection

  • Overgrown gums (gums grow up around teeth) or Receding gums (gums shrink away from teeth)

  • Periodontitis: when infection destroys the supporting bone around the teeth, can cause infected pockets and tooth loss

Small dogs are at high risk for very serious problems from untreated periodontitis. Infection weakens the bone and can result in a broken jaw. Infection that starts around an upper fang tooth can eat a hole through the roof of the mouth into the nose. Annual dental exams with full mouth dental x-rays are needed to find bone loss early!

But My Dog Doesn’t Act Like It Hurts!

DOGS ARE STOIC

Stoic (stow´ik): Enduring pain or hardship without showing feelings or complaining.

4 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR VET
  • Does my dog have any broken, discolored, or chipped teeth?
  • Does my dog have any crooked or crowded teeth? 
  • Does my dog have infected gums or bone loss?
  • Will my dog have a complete dental treatment including dental x-rays?

What Dog Owners Notice
is
How Much Better Their Dog Feels After the Dental Pain is Gone

After their dog has a complete dental treatment including dental
x-rays, dog owners say:


“I can see the difference!”

“My dog acts younger!”

“I can see how much happier my dog is!”

“My dog wants to play with the other dogs now.”

“My dog really pays attention to my commands now.”

“My dog wants to play with toys again.”

“My dog is livelier!”


ASK YOUR VETERINARIAN ABOUT DENTAL CARE FOR YOUR DOG!