Bad “Dog Breath” or “Kitty Breath” is a sign of infection and periodontal disease in your pet’s mouth. Typically the worse the breath smells the worse the disease. This is a sign you should bring your pet in for a complete oral health exam and dental cleaning.
Once your pet’s teeth have been cleaned and any diseased teeth have been addressed, home care will be important in maintaining better smelling breath. Plaque (the film that forms on our teeth) is also present in our pet’s mouths. This is a bacterial biofilm and it is the bacterial waste products that cause oral malodor. Brushing disrupts the biofilm and removes the bacteria. This helps keep bad breath under control, just as it does for our own breath.
It is possible that sometimes what we think is a bad smell coming from the mouth is not. Odors can come from further down the digestive tract, from the respiratory tract, ears or skin. If the problem persists after a dentistry procedure it is possible that further evaluations may be necessary.
If your pet is about six to eight months old, most of their puppy or kitten (deciduous) teeth should have fallen out. If you are seeing adult teeth come in and the deciduous teeth are still present they may not fall out on their own.
This is concern because the puppy’s or kitten’s deciduous teeth may prevent the adult teeth from reaching a normal position in the mouth. When the teeth are not aligned properly they could cause damage to other structures and cause pain and discomfort to your pet. This condition may mean that your pet could need orthodontics or surgery to correct the problems. An evaluation by a veterinary dentist will help you determine what options you have to address these issues.
If the deciduous teeth are not causing a problem with the adult teeth erupting into a normal position they will over time result in severe periodontal disease developing at the site. This is because it is abnormal for teeth to be in these positions and they trap debris and bacteria quickly. It is this debris and bacteria that will lead to the development of periodontal disease over time.
If you can see that your pet’s tooth is actively bleeding, this means that the pulp has been exposed. The pulp is where the blood supply and nerves are located, making is a painful condition, but depending on the individual pet they may or may not show signs of being bothered by this.
If you notice a distinct black dot on the crown of a fractured tooth it may have been pulp exposed in the past and now the pulp could be dead.
Taking a wait and see approach to pulp exposed pet teeth is not recommended. It could mean that your pet is dealing with a chronic infection and painful condition and you are sometimes unaware, as pets do not tend to stop eating or show obvious signs of a problem until the problem become quite serious. Pets usually have quite a strong food drive and do not want to show signs of illness, so do not be mistaken into thinking your pet has no pain from the fracture. Your pet feels a similar level of pain to what you would if your tooth was broken and exposed, so it is important to seek immediate treatment for them.
If you see the break actually happen or know when the break occurred a vital pulp therapy may be an option to treat the tooth, but there is a very short window for this treatment to be effective, so you should immediately contact a veterinary dentist.
Root canal therapies or extractions are the two treatment options for teeth with old fractures and pulp exposure. Once the pulp is exposed it is a matter of time before the tooth will become infected, then the tooth will die and eventually a painful abscess with develop around the root.