A case of Endodontic disease

February 12, 2023

We look closer at the causes, symptoms and treatment of this condition and find out if having pet insurance for your dog would be beneficial.

We all know how important our dogs are; they're part of the family, and we'll do anything to keep them happy and safe, even when they're hiding our slippers and taking over the bed! But we might be reluctant regarding pet insurance; we care about our dogs, but do we really need insurance? Is it worth paying when we might not even need it?

If we humans aren’t feeling well, we have access to free health care, but animals don’t have that luxury. If the unexpected does happen and they get ill or injured, wouldn’t it be nice to know that you can concentrate on looking after them and giving them the care they deserve without having to worry about vets' bills?

One of the most common issues with dogs is dental disease, affecting over 80% of dogs over three. It isn't just a case of a toothache; Endodontic disease, for example, occurs within the tooth's structure and can be extremely painful; it can affect the pulp of the tooth, and the nerves, leaving it open to infection.

What is Endodontic disease?

A dog’s tooth consists of soft pulp in the centre, enclosed in a hard layer of dentin, which is then surrounded by an even harder layer of enamel. When the enamel is chipped, the dentin is exposed, and the tooth becomes much more sensitive to pressure and hot/cold temperatures. If the soft pulp is also exposed, it can quickly become infected, known as Pulpitis. Bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream and spread to other parts of the body.

The most common teeth to be damaged are the canines and fourth pre-molars.

What are the causes?

Most fractures happen because the dog has chewed on a hard object, such as a hard chew or bones; ideally, dog chews should have a bit of 'give' in them to prevent this from happening. Teeth can also be damaged due to trauma, catching a frisbee, for example, or the teeth can be worn down, resulting in weakness and cracking.

What signs should we look for?

Dogs can’t tell us when something is wrong, but we all know our dogs, their personalities, their likes and dislikes, and it's usually obvious when something isn't right, but it's worth keeping an eye out for any of the following symptoms:

  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty eating
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Red, swollen gums
  • Excessive drooling
  • Swelling around the face
  • Rubbing their face or mouth

How is it treated?

The first action is to take your dog to the vet as soon as possible so that it can be examined and an entire history is taken. The priority is to save the tooth, and there are usually three options:

Root canal therapy removes the diseased tissue to preserve the tooth's function. It may also require a crown.

Vital pulp therapy is more common in younger dogs (under 18 months old). The infected pulp is removed, and a dressing is placed on top, followed by a protective layer of dental composite. Further root canal treatment may be needed at a later stage.

Extraction – this is the last option and involves removing the whole tooth. Your dog must be on a soft food diet for two weeks following the procedure.

All of these treatments will be carried out under a general anaesthetic.

Can it be prevented?

Monitor your dog’s treats and chew toys and get rid of anything that doesn’t bend easily, particularly bones and nylon chews.

A good way of keeping an eye on your dog's teeth and picking up on any problems early on is when you brush their teeth. Ideally, this should be done daily, but this can be easier said than done, particularly if they haven’t been used to having this done from being a puppy, but you should aim to do it three times a week. Make sure you use toothpaste specially formulated for dogs, as human toothpaste can make dogs ill.

Regular dental check-ups will also help to pick up on any potential issues before they become a problem.

Is pet insurance worth it?

You never know when you will need to visit the vet or how much it will cost you. For example, according to data from The Insurance Emporium, the average paid claim for teeth and gums from 1st January 2021 to 28th October 2022 was £473. For the back, spine and pelvis, it was £978 for the same period, growth, cysts and tumours £660, and the average paid claim for digestive system issues was £540.

There’s also the chance that your pet might require ongoing treatment. Health issues aside, what if your dog wanders off? Or do you need to board them somewhere while you're in the hospital? It's not nice to think of anything terrible happening to our beloved furry friends, but if the unexpected happens, we want to give them the best care without worrying about the cost.

The Insurance Emporium offers five different policies with a range of optional benefits to suit your and your dog's needs, so why not look at what they've got to offer, especially as you could get a 20% Introductory Discount**? You might find something your beloved pooch can get its teeth into!

*All statistics are calculated from in-house research based on average claims per most claimed injury or disease between January - September 2022.

**The Introductory Discount is available for the first 12 premium payments on lunar and calendar monthly policies or one premium payment on annual policies. All content provided is for informational purposes only. We make no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information. We will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. This policy is subject to change at any time.

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