What is Periodontal Disease in Pets?

Gingivitis is common in our dogs and cats and if not controlled it leads to periodontitis

According to the ‘2019 American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats’ there is critical role vets and vet technicians play in client education and effective, preventive oral healthcare. It’s important for pet owners to understand that by maintaining their dog and cat’s oral health they will prevent the adverse effects and pain of periodontal disease. Our Healthy Smiles expert vet technicians work closely with clients to ensure they understand the ins and outs of oral health. They explain that the prevention of gingivitis is the same as its treatment: plaque removal and control.

Periodontal disease is infection and inflammation of the periodontium (the tissues that surround and support the teeth) due to plaque bacteria and the pet’s response to the bacterial insult. Gingivitis is common in dogs and cats and refers to inflammation of the gingiva. This will lead to periodontitis if not controlled.

Did you know that dental disease can cause more than just bad breath and tooth loss? Periodontal disease can cause liver, kidney, and heart problems.  With that in mind, prevention is key.  

According to the VOHC, studies have shown that dogs with severe periodontal disease have more severe microscopic damage in their kidneys, heart muscle, and liver than dogs with less severe periodontal disease.

Signs of periodontal disease 

Your dog or cat may lose their appetite or even drop food from its mouth while they eat. Their gums may be irritated and pet owners may notice bleeding gums.

  • Red swollen gums
  • Bad breath
  • Discolored teeth
  • Bleeding gums
  • Cats will frequently stop eating, this is a sign that you need to visit the vet.

If you see any of these red flags, make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Treatment of periodontitis

Many pets, oftentimes middle-aged and older cats and dogs, require periodic professional scaling in addition to on-going plaque control.

For patients with periodontal disease, the treatment goal is the removal of plaque and calculus from the teeth. General anesthesia is necessary to provide access to the subgingival areas, where bacteria can contribute to local and sometimes systemic inflammation.

What about preventing periodontal disease? The good news is you can prevent periodontal disease in a healthy dog or cat with regular non-anesthetic dental cleanings. You will be able to determine with the help of your vet whether or not a non-anesthetic dental cleaning is appropriate for your dog or cat.

A veterinarian may not want to anesthetize a medically compromised pet, and they will instead use a non-anesthetic procedure to clean a dog or cat’s teeth. You can have your pet’s teeth cleaned without anesthesia whether they’re young and healthy or have health issues.

What about prevention?

There are steps and ways to manage gum disease in our dogs and cats.

Did you know that tartar starts to form within a few days on a tooth surface that is not kept clean? The rough surface even enhances plaque accumulation. Tartar is really difficult to remove without dental instruments but brushing helps prevent gum disease.

  • If the surfaces of the teeth are cleaned weekly, the gums will stay healthy.
  • Even pets need daily oral hygiene. There are many ways to positively train your dogs and cats to enjoy having their teeth brushed.
  • The goal of non-anesthetic dental cleanings is to prevent periodontal disease. These anesthetic-free cleanings are not meant to replace dental surgery for pets with severe gingivitis, fractured teeth that affect the roots, abscesses, stomatitis, tumors, root exposures, and severe tooth mobility. These are maintenance cleanings for pets and they’re meant to complement anesthetic cleanings to prevent periodontal disease.
  • Daily chewing activities can also be effective in maintaining oral health. Two recommendations are included below.
  • Healthy Smiles recommends a veterinary examination of the mouth and teeth of your dog or cat. 

Three most common dental diseases in cats?

Stomatitis, gingivitis, and tooth resorption. According to Cornell’s Feline Health Center, tooth resorption is a process in which the tooth structure breaks down, beginning inside the tooth, and often progressing to other parts of the tooth. 

When the inflammation goes well beyond the mucogingival junction, it’s called stomatitis. This may be due to a variety of causes but it’s most commonly immune-mediated. Cats are often affected and will have a decreased appetite or anorexia, halitosis, dehydration, and blood-tinged saliva.

Full-mouth extractions or nearly full-mouth extractions for treatment of feline stomatitis have been shown to provide resolution of oral discomfort in approximately 80% of cases.

Top products recommended by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC)

The top products we include in the below list have a variety of benefits and may even reduce the tartar on your cat and dog’s teeth. You can also use these dental treats when brushing becomes a more challenging task.

Best overall for dogs: GREENIES Senior Aging Care Natural Dental Dog Treats

Best overall for cats:   FELINE GREENIES™ Dental Treats Oven Roasted Chicken Flavor

Top takeaway

Periodontitis is the most common disease of animals. Yet it often gets confused with gingivitis. Gingivitis refers to inflammation of the gingiva and this represents the earliest stages of periodontitis.

Periodontitis describes inflammation of not only the gingiva but other structures of the periodontium (ligaments, gingiva connective tissue, and alveolar bone forms the tooth socket). Once advanced periodontitis occurs the changes are difficult to reverse!

Dental experts at Healthy Smiles visit local pet businesses such as groomers, daycares, boarding facilities, and vet clinics to serve their clientele. We also make house calls for pet parents who value convenience or pets who require special care. We’re currently located in X, X, X.

<Maria: Do you want to add a boilerplate for Healthy Smiles here? Maybe we mention where there are locations/regions? Their audience looks broad, I didn’t see anything local.>

Emma Thompson

Hi, I'm Emma Thompson. Welcome to The Pet Town! I'm a Pet lovers like you and please feel free to get in touch with any questions. Enjoy your stay!

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