Dental disease is all too common in dogs. Canine gingivitis is a dental disease which is an inflammation of the gum tissue in the mouth most commonly caused by a buildup of plaque. Plaque forms on the teeth when food particles and bacteria within the mouth mixes with proteins and starches found in the saliva. It produces a gritty matter that forms on the teeth. Plaque can eventually turn into tartar which accumulates on the teeth near the gum line. These conditions can lead to gingivitis as well as trench mouth. Gingivitis thusly can lead to periodontitis or inflammation around a tooth root, possibly causing tooth loss. In fact, gingivitis is the first step to periodontal disease in your dog. The most common symptom will be red and swollen gums. In accelerated cases, the gums may be so inflamed, they are bleeding.
In diagnosing the problem, several tests will be performed by your veterinarian to recognize gingivitis or any other canine dental diseases. Your dog will begin with a complete oral examination. Most times a sedative or anesthesia is needed to perform a thorough exam. A probe will be used in the mouth to check the interface of the gums and teeth while checking for periodontal disease and the severity of the oral cavity disease as well. A red colored dye is placed in the mouth on all the teeth to check for plaque. All findings are then recorded and graded according to severity.
Additional tests may include a complete blood count, a serum biochemistry test, and urinalysis in order to know your dog’s overall health before being anesthetized. A full mouth of x-rays may be taken just as when we ourselves go to the dentists. Seventy per cent of the tooth structure is below the gum line and can only be seen through x-rays. Other problems can be detected such as tooth root abscesses. A biopsy may also be needed in dogs with accelerated non-responsive gingivitis.
Treatment involves ultra-sonic scaling which is cleaning the teeth both above and below the gum line plus a tooth polishing. This complete procedure will cease and reverse the canine gingivitis.
In extreme serious cases, a gingivectomy may be performed where part of the gums may be removed as well as some of the diseased teeth in that area. Anesthesia may be administered intravenously or through tubes in the windpipe, should the procedure be longer than 15 minutes. A follow-up of antibiotics will be prescribed for one to three weeks after treatment.
For mild canine gingivitis, you can use a home remedy of .2% chlorhexidine, once or twice a day. Soak a cotton ball in this solution and rub gently onto the gums and teeth. Wash and massage the gums until they are healthy again.
Natural supplements can help in the remedy of gingivitis as well such as vitamin C, Myrrh, Echinacea, Arnica, Calendula lotion, Fragraria, Chamonilla and Hypericum. The use of these supplements can decrease swelling, soothe inflammation and oral pain while promoting a healthy mouth.
At-home canine oral care can help to prevent dental diseases in your dog. Brush your dog’s teeth daily if possible or twice weekly at best to keep things in tip top shape. Watch for any swelling, odor, lumps and bumps in the mouth so that a minor dental problem does not turn into canine gingivitis or worse.