Pets and People

5 Common Dog Tooth Problems

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Your dog's happy, carefree life should be unbothered by dental concerns, right? Think again. Vets say 85 percent of canines over age 4 have some form of gum disease. Other frequent problems include crooked, cracked or loose teeth, an infection or an abscess.

You may not even know when your dog has oral discomfort. This is part of his ancestry -- in the wild, showing pain would make a dog vulnerable to attack. Today's domestic canines maintain this instinct, so you have to do your best to watch for signs: changes to eating habits or loss of appetite, unusual night awakenings, rubbing the face against things or facial swelling.

Any time you suspect a problem, check with your vet, who may refer you to a veterinary dentist. If your dog's problem requires a procedure -- such as a tooth extraction or professional cleaning -- he'll probably be given a general anesthetic to make him more comfortable during the procedure. When he wakes up, he'll be happy to be relieved of that nagging ache in his mouth!

Without further ado, here are five common dental problems dogs face (and five ways the two of you can prevent them).

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