By Jan Bellows D.V.M. DipAVDC
All Pets Dental Clinic
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is inflammation of some or all of a tooth's support. When compared to gingivitis, periodontitis indicates bone loss. If left untreated, periodontitis may cause loose painful teeth as well as internal disease.
What Causes Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is caused by plaque (bacteria). Bacteria are attracted to the tooth surface within hours of the teeth being cleaned. Within days, the plaque becomes mineralized and produces calculus. As plaque ages and gingivitis develops then periodontitis (bone loss) occurs.
What Are The Signs?
Halitosis or bad breath is the primary sign of periodontal disease. Dogs' and cats' breath should not have a disagreeable odor. When periodontal disease advances, inability to chew hard food as well as excessive drooling with or without blood may occur.
How Is Periodontal Disease Diagnosed?
Bone loss from periodontal disease occurs below the gum line. In order to evaluate the stage of disease as well as the best treatment, your pet must be examined under general anesthesia. In addition to a visual examination, x-rays and instruments to measure bone loss are used.
- Stage 1 gingivitis
- Stage 2 early periodontitis-less than 25% support loss
- Stage 3 established periodontitis- between 25-50% support loss
- Stage 4 advanced periodontitis- greater than 50% support loss
How Is Periodontal Disease Treated?
Treatment depends on the severity of disease. Stage 1 gingivitis can be treated by teeth cleaning, polishing, application of fluoride to help plaque accumulation, and applying OraVet plaque prevention gel. Stage 2 disease will require deep scaling and application of a local antimicrobial if a pocket exists. Stage 3 disease is treated similarly in cases where the owner is able to provide and the owner is able to accept daily plaque control. Once stage 4 disease occurs, surgery is necessary to treat the affected teeth through specific procedures or extraction.
Daily plaque control through tooth brushing is the key to help prevent periodontal disease. Special foods and treats are also available to help control calculus. Some products are approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council.
What Is The Prognosis For Periodontal Disease?
Gingivitis is treatable and curable with daily tooth brushing. Periodontal disease is not curable once bone loss occurs, but may be controllable once treated and followed up with strict home care.
Dr. Jan Bellows is a board-certified veterinary dentist. His office, Hometown Animal Hospital and Dental Clinic, is located at 17100 Royal Palm Boulevard in Weston, Florida. He can be reached for consultations at 954-349-5800.