Animal Dentistry & Oral Surgery Specialists LLC


Dale Kressin DVM, FAVD, Dipl AVDC 
Steve Honzelka DVM, Resident
Joey Buhta DVM, Intern

Serving Oshkosh-Green Bay-Milwaukee-Minneapolis & Metropolitan areas
920-233-8409  888-598-6684

 







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Member of:
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American Veterinary Dental College

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American Veterinary Dental Society

Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association


Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association

 since 1983
Dr. Kressin previously on WVMA Executive Board

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Milwaukee Veterinary Medical Association

Northeast Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association

Tooth cavities in dogs

Tooth cavities in dogs were once thought not to develop.  We are diagnosing tooth decay and cavities with an increasing frequency in dogs.  With routine oral exams and the routine use of dental radiographs in veterinary practice, the diagnosis of tooth cavities is clearly increasing.

The earlier these lesions are diagnosed the greater is our ability to save rather than extract these teeth.  Early cavities involve damage to tooth enamel and dentin.  Longer term tooth decay results in pulp inflammation, infection, discoloration and death of the tooth.  Theese teeth must be treated by root canal therapy or by dental extraction. Some teeth fracture due to extensive tooth destruction.  The problem may progress to facial swellings or dental track formation.

Carious lesions are most frequently identified on the occlusal (biting or chewing) surfaces of molar teeth in dogs.  Early lesions are diagnosed by observation and investigation of discolored areas of teeth.  Soft enamel may be detected using an explorer probe.  These lesions progress into the dentin.  The dentin is "demineralized" by the decay process.  Dental radiographs confirm the presence and the extent of these lesions.

Treatment for tooth cavities (or carious lesions) in dogs

Early tooth decay is detected with the explorer probe as soft enamel and dentin.  It is essential to take and evaluate dental radiographs before deciding to treat or to extract these teeth.  We need to make certain that the tooth remains vital (alive) if we intend to retore them.  If the tooth is non-vital it may be treated by root canal therapy and then with a restoration.

Carious lesions may be restored by performing "cavity preparation" and the placement of amalgam or composite restorations (fillings).  We no longer use amalgam for tooth restoration in our practice due to complications associated with bacterial leakage, tooth weakening and discoloration.

Clinical photos of carious lesions in dogs.


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Right upper first and second molars.
Notice discolored carious lesions or
"cavities".

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Dental radiograph demonstrates the
cavities of the right upper first and second
molar teeth.  These teeth have not lost
structural support and do not show root
end infection.

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Composite restoration has been performed.
The original anatomy is carefully recreated.

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The opposite side also had a cavity
that was treated.  Cavities often occur
on both sides as in this case.

Cavity preparation and restoration illustrated step by step!

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Initial appearance of an upper first
molar tooth with a carious lesion or
"tooth cavity".

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Explorer probe "sticks into the tooth".
The tactile sensation of the carious
lesion resembles the probing of leather.

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A dental currette is used to excavate    The decayed tissue appears brown.
the lesion and remove deteriorated
dentin.

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Meticulous debridemnet avoids deep     The walls are carefully prepared free
penetration of the pulp tissues.            of debris circumferentially.

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Alternate view of prepared cavity wall.   A lining material is applied at location
                                                        of the preparation with "near pulp exposure".

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The lining material is "light cured" to    Phosphoric acid etching allows for optimal
activate and harden the material.         bonding of the composite restorative
                                                       material.

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After the acid etchant is thoroughly       The composite restoration is placed in 2mm
rinsed, the bonding agent is applied.     layers.  Each layer is light cured.

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The final restoration is covered by four layers of "light cured" bonding agent.

Dental cavities are often present on both sides and in some
dogs they are on the upper and lower dental arches.

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This sheltie had oral pain.                   Dental sensitivity was on both sides.

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Dental sensitivity was on the top and
bottom.

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This image demonstrates two carious     This image shows a deep cavity of the
lesions (cavities) of the left upper          right lower first molar.  The left lower
first molar.  The right upper first molar    first molar had a similar but deeper
had the same two lesions in the same    cavity that entered the pulp chamber.
location.                                             These are very painful lesions.  (The
                                                         photo was taken with the dog on its
                                                         back; therefore the tooth appears
                                                         up side down.)

Lower molars with cavities can be difficult to treat.

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This molar cavity was located in back of the
tooth and was very deep nearly exposing
the pulp chamber.

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A dental mirror was used for the cavity
preparation and the restoration of this
right lower molar tooth.

Dental cavities destroy the enamel and dentin.  Early treatment is
important or dental extraction may be the only treatment option.

Severe tooth decay is best treated by dental extraction.  The structural weakening of these decayed teeth (see radiograph below) commonly lead to tooth fracture.   Restoring weak teeth serves no useful purpose and is discouraged.

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Severe molar tooth decay resulting in
tooth destruction.  This tooth was
surgically extracted.

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Dental radiograph demonstrated the
extensive destruction of this cavity.

Dog Dental Care

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