Advanced Periodontal Disease in Dogs

Advanced periodontal disease is a later stage of the gum disease gingivitis. Gingivitis is common in dogs, and it occurs due to tooth decay. Advanced periodontal disease can cause tissue damage, tissue loss and abscesses in the gums. Read on to learn more about advanced periodontal disease in dogs.

Symptoms and Progression of Canine Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease occurs when debris and food particles build up on the teeth and along the gum line, contributing to gum disease. Bacteria in your dog's mouth feeds on the food particles stuck to his teeth, forming plaque, the thick, sticky residue that causes tooth decay. Eventually, plaque hardens into tartar, which can't be removed with regular brushing. As time passes, tartar below the gum line causes gaps to form between the gums and the teeth; bacteria can thrive in these gaps, causing further tooth decay, destruction of tissues and pus-filled abscesses, or areas of infection, inside the mouth.

There are four stages of periodontal disease:

  • In stage one, gingivitis, the build up of tartar and plaque in the mouth causes inflammation of the gums, but the gums haven't yet started to separate from the teeth.
  • In stage two, the gums have begun to detach from the teeth; up to 25% of your dog's gum line may have detached.
  • In stage three, 25 to 30% of the gum line may have detached.
  • When 50% or more of gum line has detached, your dog is considered to have advanced periodontal disease. At this stage of gum disease, your dog's gums may have receded far enough to expose the roots of his teeth.

Diagnosing and Treating Periodontal Disease in Dogs

Your vet will need to take dental X-rays in order to determine the extent of your dog's tooth decay. By the time periodontal disease becomes advanced, your dog may have suffered deterioration of gum tissue, severe tooth decay, tooth loss, and bone loss in the jaw. Some of his teeth may be loose.

Periodontal disease is easiest to treat in the early stages, when the gums have not yet begun to separate from the teeth. Even in stages two and three of periodontal disease, treatment mostly involves keeping your dog's mouth clean and preventing the formation of plaque with regular veterinary dental cleanings, home tooth brushing and possibly the use of prescription fluoride and oral rinses.

Treatment for advanced periodontal disease can involve surgical procedures to replace lost bone and gum tissue. Your dog may need painkillers and antibiotics, changes in diet, regular check ups and possibly complete tooth extraction.

Preventing Periodontal Disease in Dogs

Though periodontal disease is one of the most common dog ailments, it is easily prevented. Your dog's yearly veterinary check-ups should include veterinary dental cleanings to keep his teeth clean and healthy. You should also practice dental hygiene at home. Brush your dog's teeth daily, feed dental treats and use canine oral hygiene rinses to prevent the build up of bacteria and plaque inside your dog's mouth.