Dental diseases in puppies and young dogs

Cornelia HeinichenDr. Cornelia Heinichen took her veterinary exam at the Julius Liebig University in Giessen in 1994. After residency in two small animal clinics. A study visit to the USA was followed by a doctorate in 1995. Dr. Cornelia Heinichen was awarded the veterinary specialist certificate with the additional title of dentistry in 1997. Is co-owner of the small animal clinic Bergstrabe in Heppenheim. Cornelia Heinichen has been certified as a veterinary specialist with the additional title of dentistry in 1997. Is co-owner of the small animal clinic Bergstrabe in Heppenheim. Since October 2016 this is continued as a specialized veterinary practice.

Specialist veterinary practice Bergstrasse

Dental diseases in puppies and young dogs

The canine deciduous dentition consists of 28 teeth, while the adult dentition consists of 42 teeth. The change of teeth begins with the puppy at the age of approx. 14 weeks in the upper jaw with the inner incisors. By the age of 6-7 months the canine teeth have changed as well. Already at the age of 12-14 weeks the teeth of the permanent teeth are radiographically detectable. The canine dentition is a scissor bite, in which the front of the lower incisors should be in contact with the back of the upper incisors, and the tips of the molars of the upper and lower jaws meet like pinking shears. The prominent teeth adjacent to the incisors are called canine teeth because the dog uses them to grab and hold onto its prey. The last front molars in the upper jaw (P4) and the first rear molars of the lower jaw (M1) are called fangs – the dog uses them to grind its food.

The most common dental diseases in puppies and young dogs are persistent deciduous teeth, missing or supernumerary permanent teeth, malocclusions and, less frequently, enamel defects and tooth discoloration. Depending on breed affiliation and breeding association, defects in the permanent dentition due to their hereditary nature lead to Breeding exclusion. More important than the breeding aspect is that some of the dental diseases are associated with considerable suffering for the animal and should therefore be professionally corrected at an early stage.

If the milk tooth is still present, although the permanent tooth has already broken through, one speaks of a root canal persistent deciduous tooth (Fig. 1). The reason for this is that the dental attachment of the permanent tooth is not directly under that of the deciduous tooth and therefore this is not loosened during the change of teeth. This often occurs in the canine teeth ("canini"), hence the name "persistent canine". The permanent canines break through in the lower jaw tongueward of the milk teeth. The milk tooth that has not fallen out causes the permanent canine to grow upwards too steeply in the lower jaw, where it can injure the hard palate and lead to a fistula. For this reason, it is essential to extract persistent canines at an early stage, before a malocclusion of the permanent canines in the lower jaw results. In persistent canini in the upper jaw, the permanent canine tooth erupts before the deciduous one. Since the two teeth are very close to each other, food residues and hair collect here, and enamel abrasion can also occur on the permanent tooth at the contact point with the milk trap tooth. To remove the teeth, a gentle short anesthesia is necessary to extract them completely and painlessly. Persistent canines should under no circumstances be improperly removed with forceps by the layperson on an unsedated dog. This procedure, which is very painful for the dog and contrary to animal welfare, usually leads to the breaking off of the deciduous tooth, because it has a very long root (Fig. 2). In addition, a root apex abscess can occur, which can damage the tooth structure of the underlying permanent canine tooth.

Pay attention to the dental health of your dog already in puppyhood – so that your dog can bite powerfully until old age."

a malposition of the lower canine teeth (Caninussteilstand) can occur as a result of the persistent milk teeth that have not been removed. The clinical picture is divided into four degrees of severity, the correction of which varies. At Grade 1 the outward massaging of the lower canine teeth by the owner several times a day can already be successful. Grade 2 can be corrected by means of an expansion screw or bite splint (Fig. 3) be corrected. At Grade 3 and 4 more elaborate measures in several steps are usually required to make room for the displaced lower canine tooth.

One of the jaw malpositions is the too long or too small tooth. the lower jaw is too short (Fig. 4 and 5). The therapy of these basal-skeletal malocclusions is relatively complex and should primarily aim at enabling the dog to lead a species-appropriate life. Enamel defects on several teeth usually result from severe infectious diseases during early tooth development at the age of 4-14 weeks ("distemper dentition"). If the cells responsible for the formation of tooth structure are disturbed, the enamel coating of the permanent teeth is partially defective or missing. But also severe worm infestation or other febrile diseases that occurred during tooth development can lead to permanent damage. The antibiotic tetracycline leads to a yellow discoloration of the tooth enamel. Both enamel defects caused by infections and enamel discoloration caused by antibiotics usually affect all teeth. If, on the other hand, only one tooth is changed, there are many indications of trauma. On closer inspection, this may have occurred as a result of, for example, biting or banging against an object in puppyhood.

With all orthodontic measures it must be remembered that the young dog cannot play with other dogs while wearing fixed braces and appliances because of the risk of injury. Since the time falls in an important socialization phase (adolescence and puberty phase), an attempt should be made, if possible, to choose the orthodontic intervention in such a way that this sensitive phase is disturbed only briefly. The corrective measures taken should always be carried out in compliance with the regulations of the respective breeding association. In practice, this means that the breeder must be informed that due to the hereditary nature of jaw malocclusions with dogs in which corrections have been made to the dentition for animal welfare reasons, he should not use them for breeding purposes.

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