Vernon Hills Animal Hospital

1260 South Butterfield
Mundelein, IL 60060


Rate Your Pet's Dental Health

Do not scroll down if you are easily grossed out.

These are actual photographs of our patients taken to show various stages of dental disease.  You can compare your own pet's teeth to these images to see how good or bad their condition is.  Each image shows the upper fourth premolar - the big chewing tooth - in the back of a dog's mouth.  Be sure to pull your pet's lips back to look at the back teeth.  Professional cleaning requires anesthesia and you can see the endotracheal (breathing) tube - either orange or clear with a metal spring-like coil inside - in some of these pictures, along with the white gauze that holds the tube in place.  Some dogs have dark pigment in their gums and some do not; this is perfectly normal variation.  The last dog had to have the big tooth extracted.

To learn how to brush your pet's teeth, Look at Instructive Videos under Interesting Stuff.

NICE JOB! No sign of plaque or calculus.

Home dental care is needed to maintain these healthy teeth and gums. Brushing your pet's teeth regularly is ideal. There are also products like Hill's T/D (Tartar control Diet) available to help make home dental care easier. Ask your doctor for more information. 

These teeth are typical for a young dog.  Notice how flat the gums are where they hit the crown of the teeth.


Stage 1 Mild gingivitis:

The margin of attached gum is mildly inflamed and slightly puffy. Plaque covers the teeth. Home dental care is needed. If there is no improvement, dental cleaning is needed within the next year to remove the current plaque buildup.


Now you can see a small amount off swelling where the gums meet the teeth.  That swelling is caused by the plaque and tartar which have built up, causing an inflammatory response.


Stage 2 Moderate gingivitis:

The entire gum is inflamed and swollen. The mouth is painful and odor is noticeable. Dental cleaning to remove calculus is needed within the next month. A calculus control diet and home dental care are needed afterward for prevention.

The swollen gums are obvious in this dog. He or she is uncomfortable with gums like these.


Stage 3 Severe gingivitis:

The gums are cherry red and bleeding they are damaged by infection and calculus. A sore mouth and bad breath are evident. Dental cleaning to remove calculus is needed immediately. A calculus control diet and home dental care are needed afterward to prevent recurrence.


Even more pain and inflammation!


Stage 4 Periodontal disease:

Chronic infection is destroying the gums, teeth and bone. Bacteria are spreading through the body via the bloodstream and may damage the kidneys, liver, and heart. Dental cleaning to remove calculus is needed immediately. Some teeth may be loose and need extraction. Home dental care afterward is necessary for future prevention.


It's too late to save this tooth.  Dogs or cats presented to us with this degree of dental disease often need multiple extractions