Periodontal disease is characterized by progressive loss or destruction of tissues around the teeth which affects ligaments, gingiva, and bone associated with each tooth. It includes inflammation of the gums and the loss of bone and soft tissue around the teeth.
80% of dogs and 70% of cats over the age of 3 have some degree of periodontal disease. Other than halitosis (bad breath), there are few clinical signs evident to owners. A common misconception is that tartar on the face of the tooth is what characterizes periodontal disease, when in fact the real problem occurs as plaque spreads underneath the gum line allowing for sub gingival bacteria to damage the supporting structures of the teeth.
When left untreated, periodontal disease can cause damage to internal organs including the heart, liver, and kidneys due to the bacteria circulating through the blood stream. The bacteria secrete toxins that contribute to tissue damage, stimulating the animal’s immune system. White blood cells respond to the bacteria and inflammation present, but only worsen the problem due to the chemicals released by the excess white blood cells, further damaging the structure of the tooth.
Knowing that periodontal disease is the disease of structures under the gum, full dental exam and treatment cannot be done correctly unless the patient is under a general anesthesia, allowing a complete examination and treatment of the sub gingival space. Dental radiographs allow your veterinarian to evaluate the structures underneath the gum and assess them appropriately.
Home dental care including brushing your pets’ teeth daily can also decrease the progression of this disease and reduce the frequency of dental scale and polishing required.
Want to learn more about Periodontal Disease? Call Legacy Veterinary Clinic– We love to be there for you and your pet!