Periodontal disease in dogs is an inflammation of the gums and one of the most common canine dental diseases. Most pet parents overlook the importance of dental diseases and canine oral care. If you didn’t begin an at-home oral care plan from the time you brought your puppy home, your dog could develop a disease such as periodontal disease around the age of four or older.
When food particles and bacteria accumulate along your dog’s gum line, it can form plaque. When combined with saliva and minerals in the mouth, the plaque is transformed into calculus and tartar buildup. The result is gum irritation which leads to a condition called gingivitis. Canine gingivitis is an early stage of periodontal disease.
After an extended period of time with plaque buildup, the calculus can build under the gums where it separates the teeth and gums. These spaces are where bacteria can grow. Once the bacteria continues to foster under the gums, your dog has developed irreversible periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease is graded in stages, with stage one affecting inflammation in one or more teeth without any evidence of separation of the gum and tooth. Stage two is characterized by up to 25 per cent attachment loss; stage three involves 25 to 30 per cent attachment loss. Stage four is known as advanced periodontitis, with more than 50 per cent attachment loss. In this advanced stage of periodontal disease, the gum tissue usually recedes and the roots of the teeth are exposed.
Some of the contributing factors to periodontal disease in dogs is Streptococcus and Actinomyces bacteria. Toy breeds of dog with crowded teeth and dogs that are constantly licking and grooming themselves are more at risk for the disease. Poor nutrition can also contribute to on the onset of any canine dental disease.
To diagnose periodontal disease in your dog, a probe will be used in the mouth to check the interface of the gums and teeth while checking the severity of the oral cavity. If the exam with the probe shows more than two millimeters of distance between the gum and tooth, a dog is considered to have some form of periodontal abnormality. A full mouth exam will be performed as well as a complete set of X-rays taken.
Treatment for periodontal disease depends upon the severity and what stage is involved. In early stages, a thorough cleansing of the teeth and gums could remedy the problem. In stage two and three, a cleansing between the spacing of the teeth and gums and then applying antibiotic gel can rejuvenate periodontal tissues.
Advanced stages of periodontal disease can be fatal for a dog if the bacteria and infection accelerates and enters the bloodstream of your dog. Treatment may need bone replacement procedures, periodontal splinting, and guided tissue regeneration.
At-home care to prevent the onset of canine dental diseases such as periodontal disease involves a daily teeth brushing routine and feeding your dog a dental diet and treats. Other canine dental products are now available to ward off plaque and oral diseases. Chlorhexidine rinses and gels are great for killing plaque. A recently new vaccine called Porphyromona targets bacteria. This is something worth discussing with your veterinarian.
It cannot be stressed enough how important at-home canine oral care is for your dog. Dental Health is an important aspect in the care of a healthy and happy dog. Our dogs are a big part of our family unit and deserve the best that we can do to give them a long and happy life.