Like humans, dogs’ oral health is as important as the health of the rest of their bodies. However, dogs are more prone to developing certain oral health problems due to their anatomy and physiology. Moreover, some dog breeds are more susceptible to these problems than others.
Find out what these developmental abnormalities are and how they affect your pet’s oral health.
What Are Developmental Abnormalities in Dogs?
Developmental abnormalities are congenital (present at birth) or acquired conditions that affect a dog’s normal development. These abnormalities can be caused by genetic factors, environmental factors, or a combination of both, and can range from mild to severe and can affect any or all of a dog’s teeth.
A dog with developmental abnormalities can also suffer from internal medicine conditions that are not apparent on the outside. Some common developmental abnormalities affecting dogs are:
Elongated Soft Palate
This is a condition where the soft palate (the fleshy tissue at the back of the roof of the mouth) is too long. It happens when the muscles and tissues making up the soft palate do not develop properly in utero. Elongated soft palates are common in brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds such as pugs and boxers. They can cause difficulty breathing and make your dog more prone to snoring and sleep apnea.
A cleft palate is a condition where there is an opening in the roof of the mouth. This results from the muscles and tissues that make up the palate not fusing together properly in utero. Cleft palates are more common in brachycephalic breeds but can also occur in others.
If your dog has a cleft palate, they will have difficulty eating and drinking and may also have trouble breathing. They need to be fed through a special feeding tube.
An underbite is a condition where the lower jaw protrudes beyond the upper jaw. Genetic factors can cause it, or it may result from trauma to the teeth or jaws. Underbites are more common in certain breeds, such as pugs and bulldogs.
An underbite can cause difficulty eating and drinking and may also lead to gum disease. Your dog may need to have their teeth cleaned more often if they have an underbite.
Dental abnormalities are common in dogs and can be caused by genetic factors or poor dental care. Common dental problems include:
- Crowding. This is a condition when the teeth do not have enough space to erupt properly. Genetics or trauma to the teeth or jaws may cause crowding, which is more common in certain breeds, such as pugs, Boston Terriers, Shi Tzus, and bulldogs. Crowding can lead to periodontal disease.
- Malocclusion. Malocclusion is when the teeth do not meet properly when the jaws are closed. This can be due to genetics, or it may be the result of trauma to the teeth or jaws. Malocclusion is more common in certain breeds, such as pugs, Boston Terriers, Shi Tzus, and bulldogs. Malocclusion can lead to periodontal disease.
- Missing teeth. A missing tooth is a condition where one or more teeth are absent. This can be due to genetics, or it may be the result of trauma to the teeth or jaws. Toys and miniature poodles are prone to this condition, leading to gum disease.
- Tooth resorption. Tooth resorption is a condition where the body absorbs the tooth root. This can be due to genetics, or it may be the result of trauma to the teeth or jaws. Tooth resorption is more common in certain breeds, such as Yorkshire terriers. Tooth resorption can lead to periodontal disease.
- Oral tumors. Oral tumors are growths that develop in the mouth. They can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Oral tumors are more common in certain breeds, such as boxers and bulldogs. These can cause difficulty eating and drinking and lead to gum disease.
How Anatomy and Physiology Affect a Dog’s Oral Health
One of the main reasons dogs are more prone to developing oral health problems is their anatomy and physiology. For example, dogs have shorter jaws in proportion to their head size when compared to humans. This means that their teeth are more crowded together, and there’s less room for them to move around, leading to tooth decay and gum disease.
Dogs also have different types of teeth than humans. Their incisors (front teeth) are shorter, and their molars (back teeth) are longer. This makes their bite not as effective at breaking down food, which can lead to problems such as plaque buildup and tartar.
In addition, certain dog breeds are more prone to developing these problems than others. For example, toy and miniature breeds are more likely to develop gum disease due to their small jaw size. Brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds are also more prone to gum disease and tooth decay because their teeth are positioned in their mouths.
Common Oral Health Problems in Dogs Due to Developmental Abnormalities
1. Tooth Decay
Because of their teeth position and their smaller jaw size, dogs are more prone to developing tooth decay. This is when the enamel on their teeth breaks down and forms cavities. As a pet owner, you can help prevent this by brushing your dog’s teeth regularly and taking them to a dog dentist for dental check-ups.
2. Gum Disease
Gum disease is another common oral health problem in dogs due to their anatomy. This is when the gums become inflamed and start to pull away from the teeth. This can lead to infection, tooth loss, and other serious problems. Help prevent this by regularly brushing your dog’s teeth and taking them to the vet for dental check-ups.
3. Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome (BAOS)
This condition affects brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds such as Pugs and Bulldogs. Because of how their teeth are positioned in their mouths, they can develop an obstruction in their airway. This can then lead to difficulty breathing, snoring, and other respiratory problems. If you think your dog may have BAOS, take them to the vet for a check-up.
4. Bad Breath
Bad breath is another common oral health problem in dogs. It’s usually caused by plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth, which leads to bacteria growth. It can indicate gum disease or tooth decay. Brush your dog’s teeth regularly and take them to the vet for dental check-ups. You can also give them treats or dental chews to help reduce plaque and tartar buildup.
How to Prevent Oral Health Problems in Dogs
Here are tips to help prevent oral health problems in dogs:
- Brush their teeth regularly using a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Give them dental chews or treats to help reduce plaque and tartar buildup.
- Bring them to your vet for regular dental check-ups.
- Feed them a balanced and nutritious diet. An example of a good dog diet for oral health is high in protein and vegetables and low in carbohydrates.
Can Specialists Fix Developmental Abnormalities?
Developmental abnormalities can be fixed by specialists such as orthodontists and oral surgeons. They can help correct crowding, malocclusion, and missing teeth. If your dog has BAOS, they may also need to see a veterinarian specializing in respiratory issues, such as OceansideVH.com.
Your dog’s oral health is crucial for their overall health and well-being. Be sure to brush your dog’s teeth regularly and take them to the vet for dental check-ups. If you think they may have a problem, take them to see a specialist. With proper care, you can help prevent oral health problems in dogs.