Periodontal disease is one of the most common ailments affecting dogs and cats (over 80% animals have dental dz by age of 3 years)
Periodontal disease is inflammation or infection of a tooth or a tooth’s supporting structures
Untreated periodontal disease will continue to progress leading to pain, possible infection disseminating to other parts of the body (including the heart, liver, kidney) and loss of teeth
Periodontal disease starts when bacteria in the mouth accumulate and form plaque. If not removed, this plaque mineralizes to form calculus (which is the tartar you see on teeth). As this calculus continues to form and bacteria continue to accumulate they cause gingivitis (inflammation/redness of the gums). Untreated gingivitis progresses to periodontitis (inflammation of the tooth and supporting structures).
Signs of dental disease include: foul smelling breath (dogs and cats with proper oral care should not have bad breath), food avoidance, chewing on one side of the mouth, discoloration of teeth, redness of the gums or bleeding from the gums
Periodontal disease is diagnosed by your veterinarian. A complete oral examination may include sedation and radiographs (x-rays). Radiographs are needed to evaluate the tooth roots and surrounding structures that are hidden below the gum line. Most dental disease occurs below the gum line
4 stages of dental disease – occur as a progression: (1) gingivitis (2) early periodontitis, less than 25% loss of supporting tooth structures (3) established periodontitis, between 25-50% loss, (4) advanced periodontitis, greater than 50% supporting structure loss. Stage 1 is reversible, once bone loss occurs not reversible.
Periodontitis can be treated by your veterinarian. Treatment can range from a simple dental cleaning and polish like you get at your dentist to cleaning with radiographs and extraction of affected teeth.
Help prevent periodontitis with routine home dental care. Brushing teeth daily with an approved pet toothpaste (DON’T use human paste) is the best way to prevent dental disease. See your veterinarian for more information on how to brush your pets teeth. There is also a dental vaccine available and various dental treats and diets which may help slow the progression of dental disease. Speak with your veterinarian about these options.