Periodontal disease

Taking care of our pet’s teeth is important! As pets get older, they have plaque deposits on their teeth than can harden into tartar. This tartar can be a place for bacteria to hang out and multiply, and it can cause gum disease, or gingivitis. As gingivitis gets worse, it can develop into periodontal disease.

This is an illustration of a normal dog’s mouth with no plaque or tartar accumulation, and no gum disease.

dog teeth normal

Image from Diagnostic Imaging Atlas.

In gingivitis, there is an overall inflammation of the gums. The gums can look red, and can be very painful. There may even be infection in the gums. Here is an illustration of a dog with severe tartar accumulation and gingivitis. The brown deposits on the teeth are tartar, and the gums are red and swollen from gingivitis.

dog teeth gingivitis

Image from Diagnostic Imaging Atlas.

As gingivitis goes without treatment and gets worse, it can develop into periodontal disease. Periodontal is inflammation (often with infection) of the gums, and all the other structures near the teeth. Pets with periodontal disease may have very painful, swollen, red gums. It may be painful for them to eat, or play with their favorite toys (especially if their favorite game is catch!). You may also notice other signs of mouth pain. As periodontal disease gets worse, the gums will pull away from the teeth, exposing the teeth roots. This makes the teeth more likely to get infected. The ligaments that hold the teeth in place also get damaged, and the teeth can become loose and even fall out.

This illustration shows a dog with periodontal disease. The big difference in periodontal disease from gingivitis in the image above is that the gums have started to recede from the teeth and expose the tooth roots (yellow circles).

dog teeth periodontal disease

Image from Diagnostic Imaging Atlas.

Periodontal disease can be treated with a thorough dental cleaning, and often a treatment with antibiotics. Although many pets do lose teeth with periodontal disease, they can go back to normal after appropriate treatment. Brushing your pets teeth at home, and giving treats that can help to prevent plaque build up can help to prevent dental disease.

Almost 70% of dogs and cats have some degree of periodontal disease or other dental disease. Have you had your pet’s teeth checked lately? Next time you come in for your pet’s vaccines, ask to have their teeth examined, too. If you’re worried that your pet may have dental problems, don’t wait for their next vaccines. Call us, or come in to have them checked out today!

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