In young dogs, tooth enamel that develops and strengthens normally will be smooth and provide uniform coverage of the teeth. However, some physical or environmental occurrences, such as blunt trauma to the mouth or certain illnesses, can interfere with the development of tooth enamel and cause malformation and pitting of the tooth surface. This can cause a young dog's teeth to appear discoloured and puts the dog at risk of developing a bacterial infection that can damage the tooth root or surrounding soft tissue and lead to tooth loss. Here's an overview of enamel malformation in dogs:
Enamel malformation typically causes raised patterns or dull bands to appear on the surface of the affected teeth and exposed areas of dentin can cause teeth to be more sensitive, which can impact your dog's eating and drinking habits. Dogs with tooth enamel malformation are also prone to developing plaque, which leads to gum inflammation and bad breath. Additionally, bacteria can enter the tooth and cause infection and abscesses to develop.
Your vet will diagnose tooth enamel malformation by conducting a thorough oral exam and taking X-rays to determine whether there's any damage to the affected teeth beyond the enamel. Blood samples may also be collected to check the inflammatory markers in your dog's body and determine the health of their organs if any form of anaesthetic is to be used during treatment. Additionally, your dog's gum tissue may be swabbed if an infection is present, as this will allow your vet to determine the strain of bacteria causing the infection.
Treatment for enamel malformation involves filing any raised areas of enamel to create a smooth tooth surface and applying a sealant to prevent bacteria entering the tooth and a fluoride paint to protect and strengthen the enamel that's left. If bacterial infection is present, your dog will also require a course of antibiotics, and they may also need root canal treatment to clean out the infected tooth pulp. In cases of severe root damage due to infection, tooth extraction may be necessary.
During recovery, you will need to prevent your dog from chewing on anything hard, such as hard rubber toys, and you will need to alter their diet and provide soft foods only. Your vet will recommend a diet plan to ensure their nutritional needs are being met. Your vet will also carry out regular follow-up appointments to check the health of your dog's teeth, and your dog may benefit from professional dental cleanings, so you may want to have treatment carried out at a vet surgery that's nearby your home.
If your dog has any of the symptoms associated with tooth enamel malformation, schedule an urgent appointment with your local vet clinic to prevent unnecessary suffering.