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Tooth Enamel Malformation in Dogs

Enamel Hypoplasia/Hypocalcification in Dogs

The outer coating of the tooth, the enamel, develops according to a specific set of physical and environmental circumstances. Normally developed enamel will have a smooth, white appearance. However, when conditions in the environment interfere with the development of tooth enamel, teeth can take on a discolored, pitted or otherwise unusual appearance.

Bodily influences, like canine distemper virus (in young puppies that are not vaccinated) or a fever over an extended period of time, may cause pitting and discolored enamel surfaces. Local influences, like injury (even from baby tooth extraction) over a short period of time can cause specific patterns or bands to appear on the developing teeth. These types of traumas can result in less than normal deposits of enamel, medically termed hypocalcification. The lack of sufficient enamel may cause the teeth to be more sensitive, with exposed dentin (which is normally hidden underneath the enamel), and occasionally fractures of severely compromised teeth. The teeth usually remain fully functional.

Symptoms and Types

  • Irregular, pitted enamel tooth surface with discoloration of diseased enamel and potential exposure of underlying dentin (light brown appearance)
  • Early or rapid accumulation of plaque (bacteria, food film, dead skin cells and mucin) and calculus (calcium phosphate and calcium carbonate mixed with organic matter) on roughened tooth surface
  • Possible gingivitis and/or accelerated periodontal/gum disease

Causes

  • Injury during enamel formation on the teeth
  • Canine distemper virus, fever, trauma (e.g., accidents, excessive force used during deciduous/baby tooth extraction)

Diagnosis

Discolored teeth may be found by your veterinarian during a routine physical exam, which normally includes a complete oral exam. Intraoral radiographs (X-rays) can then be taken by your veterinarian to determine if the roots of the teeth are still alive.

 
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