Amelogenesis Imperfecta in Dogs

by Lydia Janssen
Poodles are more likely to suffer from enamel problems.

Poodles are more likely to suffer from enamel problems.

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Serious dental conditions like amelogenesis imperfecta can cause pain and difficulty eating for your dog. Amelogenesis imperfecta causes tooth enamel to develop irregularly. With the right care, dogs with amelogenesis imperfecta can have strong dental health for years. Untreated dogs will often have tooth pain, infections and sometimes loss of teeth.

Amelogenesis Imperfecta

Amelogenesis imperfecta is an inherited condition in which the tooth enamel doesn't fully develop. It is uncommon in most dog breeds but not uncommon in standard poodles. The condition generally affects all of a dog's teeth, both baby teeth and permanent. The insufficient calcium and thin enamel cause chalky teeth, pitted enamel and discoloration. The condition may be caused by illness, injury or, in the case of amelogenesis imperfecta, genetics.

Potential Causes of Hypocalcification

A number of different environmental factors can lead to symptoms similar to those of the genetics-caused amelogenesis imperfecta. Trauma, nutrient deficiencies, toxins, parasites, metabolic dysfunctions, infection, fever and distemper can all cause hypocalcification of the enamel in puppies that will last throughout adulthood. Kidney failure during early puppyhood may lead to the condition. Hypocalcification is often combined with root hypoplasia, a condition in which tooth roots are shallow and insecure.

Dental Treatment

While the enamel cannot be replaced, a veterinary specialist help preserve the teeth. Any teeth with extensively shallow roots are removed to help prevent infection. The affected teeth are then cleaned, and any diseased enamel, stains and plaque are carefully removed. Crowns are used to restore the structure of the teeth, and a sealant is applied to help prevent plaque buildup, infection, staining and tooth sensitivity.

Long-Term Management

While the procedure will help maintain the health and structural integrity of the teeth, continued care is necessary, too. The dog's teeth need regular brushing at home with a dog-approved toothpaste and should undergo regular cleanings from the veterinarian. To monitor for potential disease and further tooth breakdown, a radiographic evaluation should be performed every six to 18 months. The dog should also not be allowed to chew on hard or abrasive toys or treats.

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