Solving Dog Teeth Discoloration: A Guide to a Healthier Smile

Jun 26, 2024

Sure, we love those pearly whites, but there’s more to a dog’s teeth color than just a super bright smile. Teeth discoloration in dogs can mean there are underlying dental care issues you want to address, as dental health care is also indicative of overall health care.

Understanding Tooth Discoloration in Dogs

Tooth discoloration in dogs can be more than just a cosmetic issue; it often is a signal that your dog has dental health problems that need attention. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and prevention methods can help you keep your dog’s teeth healthy and strong, and help keep that oral biome healthy too.

My Dog Has A Discolored Tooth! What Does That Mean?

Tooth discoloration in dogs can show up in your dog’s mouth looking like they have yellow, brown, or even darker brown/black shades. This is usually the first sign that there are some dental health issues your dog is dealing with–ranging from mild to severe. It’s a sign that there is likely a plaque or tartar buildup in your dog’s mouth, but it can also mean that you’re looking at gum disease, tooth decay, or even more serious issues.

Dog tooth discoloration can be an early warning sign of dental problems. Just like it is for us humans, dental health in dogs is closely linked to their overall health. Bacteria from their mouth can enter the bloodstream and affect their other organs, leading to more serious health issues. Maintaining good dental hygiene in dogs is important so they’re healthier overall.

Types and Symptoms of Discolored Teeth

The various colors that your dog’s teeth may look like all give clues about the different stages or types of dental issues they may be dealing with. If you know what these color changes mean, you can help you spot problems early and get your dog the care they need.

Yellow teeth are often the first sign that something’s up with your dog’s dental health. This usually means plaque and tartar are starting to build up. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that can harden into tartar if not removed.

  • What to Look For: If your dog’s teeth are turning yellow, it’s a good sign that you need to step up their dental care. Regular brushing and dental chews can help keep plaque and tartar at bay.
  • Other Symptoms: Along with yellow teeth, you might notice that your dog’s breath isn’t so fresh, and their gums might be a bit inflamed or pink.

Brown Teeth mean that the tartar buildup has advanced and hardened significantly. At this stage, it’s tougher to remove without a professional cleaning from your vet.

  • What to Look For: Brown teeth mean it is likely time for a visit to the vet for a thorough dental cleaning. The tartar at this stage is much harder to deal with at home. If it gets worse, advanced dental issues can happen.
  • Other Symptoms: You’ll likely notice bad breath, red and swollen gums, and maybe even some discomfort when your dog eats. They may even eat less if it hurts them too much.

Darker or Black Teeth are a sign of fairly serious dental problems or even a dead tooth. This can happen from untreated dental disease or trauma to the tooth.

  • What to Look For: Dark or black teeth are a red flag that your dog needs immediate veterinary attention. The tooth might need to be pulled, or there could be an infection that needs treatment.
  • Other Symptoms: Severe bad breath, visible pus or discharge, noticeable pain, and changes in eating habits or behavior are usually what you’ll see when teeth are in this severe shape.

Additional Symptoms Associated with Discolored Teeth In DogsPhoto: An adult brushes a dogs teeth to prevent discolored teeth.

Spotting the symptoms that come with discolored teeth can help you know you need to do something to help keep their dental health in shape.

  • Bad Breath (Canine Halitosis): Bad breath is often the first sign that there’s a problem. It’s usually caused by bacteria in plaque and tartar. No, they’re never going to have breath that smells like roses, but ‘dog breath’ shouldn’t knock you out without making you investigate to see if there’s more of a problem.
  • Red and Swollen Gums: If your dog’s gums are inflamed and bleeding easily, they might have gingivitis or more advanced gum disease.
  • Changes in Appetite or Eating Habits: Dental pain can make your dog eat less or have trouble chewing. If your dog stops eating or changes their habits without any apparent reason, consider checking their teeth.
  • Behavioral Changes: If your usually energetic dog is acting lethargic or irritable, it could be because of dental pain. They may not even want to play with toys because it just hurts too much to put anything in their mouth.

What Causes Discolored Teeth In Dogs?

Plaque and Tartar: The Toothy Troublemakers

Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on your dog’s teeth after they eat. If it’s not removed by brushing or scraping from bones or toys, this plaque hardens into tartar, which is much tougher to get rid of and can cause tooth discoloration and gum disease. Over time, the buildup of plaque and tartar can lead to serious dental problems like periodontal disease, which affects the tissues that support your dog’s teeth.

Preventing plaque and tartar buildup is key to keeping your dog’s teeth healthy and smiling bright. Here’s how you can help:

  • Regular Brushing: Brushing your dog’s teeth regularly is one of the best ways to remove plaque before it hardens into tartar. Use a toothbrush and toothpaste made specifically for dogs.
  • Dental Chews: Dental chews are a great addition to your dog’s oral care routine. They’re designed to clean teeth and reduce tartar through the chewing action, which helps scrape off plaque. A good dental chew will include ingredients that aren’t just good for their teeth but their gut health as well.
  • Plenty Of Water: Water helps rinse nasties that can lead to bacteria and plaque just like it does for us humans. Make sure they always have fresh water available.
  • Professional Cleanings If Needed: Regular check-ups and professional cleanings by your vet may be necessary. These cleanings can remove tartar that’s too tough to get off at home.

Other Factors Contributing to Discoloration

Medications: Some medications can cause tooth discoloration over time. For example, chlorhexidine (an antiseptic) and tetracyclines (a type of antibiotic) are known to stain teeth. If your dog is on long-term medication, talk to your vet about potential side effects on their dental health.

Worn Enamel: Chewing on hard objects like bones or toys can wear down the enamel on your dog’s teeth. Once the enamel is worn away, the dentin underneath becomes exposed, and makes the tooth more prone to discoloration. Choose chew toys that are gentle on their teeth to protect your dog’s enamel.

Oral Trauma: Injuries to the mouth or teeth can damage the tooth structure, leading to discoloration. Whether it’s a fall, a fight, or chewing something too hard, trauma can cause teeth to darken or turn black. If your dog suffers an oral injury, you may want the vet to check them out to make sure there’s not too much oral injury.

Genetics: Just like people, some dogs are genetically predisposed to dental issues, including discolored teeth. Breeds like Greyhounds and Yorkshire Terriers are known to have more dental problems. If your dog is prone to these issues, extra care and regular dental check-ups may make the difference.

Preventing And Treating Discolored Teeth in Dogs

When it comes to treating discolored teeth in dogs, we’re advocates of a holistic and preventative approach as the first line of defense. There are lots of natural ways you can take care of your dog’s teeth to prevent them from becoming discolored.

  • Healthy Diet A balanced diet is crucial for maintaining your dog’s dental health. Foods rich in vitamins and minerals support strong teeth and gums. Incorporating raw bones and crunchy vegetables like carrots and celery can naturally clean teeth as your dog chews.
  • Holistic Dental Chews Dental chews are a fantastic way to keep your dog’s teeth clean and healthy. Opt for chews that contain natural, gut-friendly ingredients. Look for chews with enzymes to break down plaque, probiotics to support healthy bacteria in the mouth and gut, and herbs like parsley and mint to freshen breath naturally.
  • Regular Dental Cleanings and Exams Consistent dental care can prevent discoloration and other dental issues. Brushing your dog’s teeth with toothpaste designed for them can help remove plaque and tartar buildup.
  • Natural Dental Sprays and Gels Using dental sprays or gels with natural ingredients can help reduce plaque and tartar. Products that include essential oils such as peppermint or clove oil, known for their antibacterial properties, are particularly beneficial.
  • Natural Remedies for Dental Health Some natural remedies can support your dog’s dental health. Rubbing a small amount of coconut oil on your dog’s teeth can help reduce bacteria and promote a healthy mouth. Adding a small amount of apple cider vinegar to your dog’s water can reduce tartar buildup and freshen their breath.

When More Intensive Care Is Needed For Discolored TeethPhoto: A vet scales a Collies teeth to clean them.

If discoloration is significant and preventive measures just don’t cut it, non-invasive treatments like professional dental cleanings can help. These cleanings, performed by your vet, can remove tartar that home care can’t address.

If your dog’s dental issues are more advanced, consult with a holistic veterinarian. They might recommend treatments like homeopathy, herbal remedies, or acupuncture to address pain and infection naturally.

Last-Ditch Efforts: Root Canals and Extractions

In some cases, more invasive procedures like root canals or extractions may be necessary. These are last-resort options, and the goal is always to address issues before they reach this stage. We believe that good oral care from the start can make all the difference in preventing plaque and buildup that gets more serious.

Bernie’s Charming Chompers: Good Dental Care For Dogs

Like everything we create, we created Charming Chompers because we needed something for our own dogs, Bernie and Lady. Our goal was to create a product that not only cleaned their teeth but also supported their overall health. We know that good oral health really starts in the gut, so we packed our chews with fiber, prebiotics, and postbiotics to promote a balanced digestive system. We wanted to support their gut health as we supported their fresher breath and cleaner teeth, and because we’re committed to the best ingredients for our dogs, you can trust them for yours too. Keeping your dog’s teeth clean from things that can discolor them doesn’t just help their smile be amazing; it helps them have the healthiest, happiest life they can!

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