What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease is defined as the destruction of tooth attachment (periodontal ligament and jaw bone), caused by bacteria. It begins when bacteria form on teeth in a substance called plaque. If plaque is not removed immediately, two things occur. First, the plaque is calcified by the minerals in saliva to become tartar. This is the brown substance you can see on your pet’s teeth.

The other thing that occurs with chronic plaque formation is that it will start to move under the gum line. Once the plaque gets under the gum, it begins to cause inflammation, which is called gingivitis. Gingivitis is the beginning, reversible form of periodontal disease. If this inflammation is not controlled, the bacteria within the gingiva will change to a more virulent type. These more virulent species cause severe inflammation. Eventually, the body responds to this inflammation resulting is bone destruction, which continues until the tooth is lost. Health issues in your pet often present themselves long before this happens. 

What Are The Warning Signs of Periodontal Disease?

Unfortunately, there are no obvious outward signs of periodontal disease until it is VERY advanced. The earliest sign is inflammation (redness or swelling) of the gums. This is generally accompanied by a buildup of plaque and calculus on the teeth, but unless you are looking for these changes they are not noticeable.

As periodontal disease progresses, the infection will worsen. The next signs within the mouth are receding gums or loose teeth. This increased infection may result in bad breath or blood on chew toys; however, this should NOT be relied upon for diagnosis. If your pet has bad breath or you see blood on toys, it is almost a sure sign of advanced tooth disease and will require a trip to see us.

What Can I Do At Home to Prevent Periodontal Disease?

Aside from brushing your pet's teeth on a regular basis... Another form of home care consists of rinsing with an antiseptic agent and additives you can put into their water dish. Ask us about the Veterinary approved products we have. A combination of brushing, rinsing and feeding the right dental food is best for oral disease control.