Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease) In Pets

Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease that affects the soft and hard structures that support teeth. In the early stage of gingivitis, the gingiva becomes swollen and red due to inflammation, which is the body’s natural response to the presence of pathogenic bacteria. In more advanced forms of periodontal disease, namely periodontitis, one will see recession and destruction of the supporting alveolar bone. Although inflammation as a result of a bacterial infection is behind all forms of periodontal disease, a variety of factors can influence the severity of the disease. Important risk factors include inherited or genetic susceptibility, lack of adequate home care, age, diet, health history, and medications.

Periodontal disease is the most prevalent oral disease seen in small animals, specifically dogs and cats. It can be a very painful and often debilitating disease to the affected animal, and unfortunately most pet owners will not know that their pet is suffering until the animal is showing obvious signs of discomfort from more advanced forms of periodontitis. Periodontal disease has also been associated with multiple systemic conditions, so preventing and treating periodontal disease is of paramount importance to the overall health of the affected animal.

The gold standard for preventing periodontal disease is a professional prophylaxis (teeth cleaning) in conjunction with home care. When treating periodontal disease, scaling and root planning is one of the most commonly used techniques in periodontal therapy. Not only is its efficacy widely documented in literature, but the fact that it continues to be the most widely-used form of periodontal therapy speaks volumes for the importance of such a treatment.

Dental Disease and the Effects it Has On Pets.

Imagine how your teeth would look and feel if you didn’t brush them daily. The same applies to your pet’s teeth. Bad breath and staining are unappealing, but many pet owners are not aware that these symptoms may be signs of serious gum disease. Unless you provide some form of regular dental care, you are neglecting an important factor in the overall health of your pet. Periodontal (gum) disease is one of the most common health concerns of pets today. The problem begins when plaque and tartar build up on your pet’s teeth.

Plaque harbors the bacteria that can infect gum tissue and the roots of teeth, which results in disease and tooth loss. In addition to the negative impact on the oral health, bacteria can enter the bloodstream through the blood vessels located near the gums and teeth. There is some evidence that when periodontal disease is present at this stage, the organs with the highest blood flow may be susceptible to infections:  lungs, heart, kidneys, liver, and even the brain. Damage to these organs caused by infection can shorten the lives of our pets.

Symptoms of Dental Disease in Pets

  • Bad breath – one of the first signs of dental disease.
  • A yellowish-brown crust of plaque on the teeth near the gum line.
  • Red and swollen gums.
  • Pain or bleeding when your pet eats or when the mouth or gums are touched.
  • Decreased appetite or difficulty eating.

If your pet displays any of these signs, serious periodontal disease may be present. Find a NPDA certified provider in your area to schedule a professional dental cleaning.