Periodontal disease is the most common disease seen in small animal veterinary practice. Left untreated, periodontal disease can cause oral pain, tooth loss, infections and systemic disease caused by bacteria that enters the bloodstream from the infected teeth. Bacteria invade and damage organs such as the heart, kidneys, liver and lungs. Most cases of advanced periodontal disease in dogs and cats can be PREVENTED.
Periodontal disease is an ongoing process that can be broken down into five stages for the purpose of diagnosis and treatment.
- Stage 1: Early Gingivitis – characterized by mild plaque and reddening of the gums, which are the earliest detectable signs. This stage is reversible.
- Stage 2: Established Gingivitis – characterized by plaque and/or calculus accumulation with redness and swelling of the marginal gingiva.
- Stage 3: Early Periodontitis – occurs when the deep periodontal structures start to become diseased. Exaggerated gingival inflammation may be seen, but the deepening of the periodontal pockets may be evident only on probing, taking X-rays or during a more thorough intra-oral examination.
- Stage 4: Established Periodontitis – characterized by deep periodontal pockets, mouth pain, gingival recession, root exposure, loss of bone and mild tooth mobility.
- Stage 5: End Stage Periodontitis – characterized by bone loss exceeding 75%. Single-rooted teeth exhibit mobility, but multi-rooted teeth may not yet be loose. Pets may show mouth pain, pawing at the mouth, weight loss and even abscesses that break-out onto the gum line, face or chin.
Dog and cat owners should brush their pet’s teeth daily. We teach new puppy and kitten owners how to begin home dental care the very first time they are examined. We recommend using water and a gauze pad to rub the teeth surfaces, moving in a circular motion for about 30 seconds on each side of the mouth.
Annual examinations and professional teeth cleaning by your veterinarian will prolong the life of your pet’s teeth as well as the longevity of your pet.
Several commercial diets, (such as t/d made by Hills), have been scientifically researched and shown to significantly reduce plaque and tarter by mechanically scraping the tooth during chewing.
Dental chews (such as OraVet and C.E.T. Hextra) are effective in controlling plaque by killing oral bacteria as well as scraping tarter from teeth. They are highly digestible, low calorie and provide a great alternative for animals who do not allow their teeth to be brushed.