Periodontal Disease in Dogs

Periodontal disease in dogs, also known as periodontitis, is one of the more common ailments which affect dogs. It occurs when there is swelling around the teeth and swelling can either be in the gums or deep rooted in the bone structures of the mouth.

The infection begins when the build-up of plaque is not cleared from the mouth. The plaque then starts building-up underneath the gum line and travels from the gums to the bones. When this happens, bacteria will start to grow in the gums and bones. The bacterial growth causes a severe infection, which can ultimately lead to the loss of teeth, as well as a fractured jaw line.

This disease is extremely painful to dogs and the treatment process is even more painful. Because of that, it is urgently important that your dog receive adequate and continuous dental care.

Risk Factors

Although good dental health can lower the risk of periodontal disease to your dog, there are some risk factors that are unavoidable and which can make your dog more likely to develop it. Being aware of these risk factors will help you to better care for your dog.

Genetics is a pitfall that cannot be avoided. If periodontal disease has been known to affect a relative in your dog's blood lines, it does not necessarily mean that your dog will be affected with it. However, it does mean that the genetic tendency is present. If you are aware of this, you should make sure to take specialized care of your dog's dental habits.

As with most other ailments, advanced age is always a contributing factor. It begins with the aging process where structures and systems of the body become less resilient to the development of bacteria and its effects. While periodontal disease is known for developing at any age, it is also enormously more common in dogs of advanced age.

Signs to Look for

If your dog develops periodontal disease, some of the following signs may become more obvious to you:

  • Extremely bad breath
  • Bleeding from the gums while brushing teeth
  • Bleeding from the gums while chewing toys
  • Loss of interest in eating
  • Loose teeth or rotten appearance of teeth
  • Appearance of pain while eating

Diagnosis and Treatment for Dog Periodontal Disease

Diagnosis is made on a grading scale from one to four. Each grade determines the specific appearance of the mouth and what the present condition is, whether gingivitis, which is swelling of the gums, or progression to periodontal disease. Grade one starts out with the early presence of gingivitis, which is reversible. As the scale escalates to four, the indefinite condition of periodontitis is diagnosed. All grades in between indicate the progression and severity of gingivitis or periodontal disease.

Treatment of periodontal disease starts with the removal of plaque from the teeth. All plaque will need to be removed in order to determine the level of severity and which treatment option is warranted. All treatment options for this disease are considered invasive, which is why prevention is crucially important.

Sometimes the removal of teeth will be required and other times a complete cleaning of the gums and underneath the gums will be required. Treatment is solely dependent upon the severity of the condition. However, all of the treatment options for periodontal disease are quite painful and it can be fairly stated that the best plan of treatment is prevention.

Preventing Periodontal Disease in Dogs

The best method of prevention against periodontal disease, even with the inclusion of certain risk factors, is the habitual cleaning and brushing of your dog’s teeth. Chew toys that are specialized for dental care are also good options. However, it is important to make sure that plaque is regularly brushed away from the teeth and gums to prevent the progression of bacteria into periodontal disease.