Periodontal disease in cats and dogs is one of the most common infectious diseases in the world. It occurs in two forms: gingivitis, a reversible inflammation of the gums; and periodontitis, an inflammation of the deeper structures supporting the teeth. Periodontitis causes tooth and bone loss, which can even lead to jaw fracture, and affects over 80 percent of dogs and cats over three years of age.
Periodontitis is the inflammation of the structures that support teeth, the gum tissue, periodontal ligament, alveolus (small cavity) and cementum (bonelike connective tissue covering the root of a tooth and assisting in tooth support).
What to Watch For
• Bad breath
• Bleeding gums
• Tooth loss or loose teeth
• Ulcers in the mouth
• Gum recession
• Poor appetite
Home Care and Prevention
The basic principle is that active periodontal disease will not develop around a clean tooth. Daily tooth brushing is the single most important home care act that you can do. Dental care diets or treats can also be helpful to maintain a healthy mouth. Chlorhexidine rinses or toothpastes are excellent at killing plaque above the gum line and should be used daily in chronic or refractory cases.
Periodontal lesions can be progressive so it is important they are monitored closely. Follow up with your veterinarian as directed (often every 3-6 months) for re-evaluation.
Again, daily tooth brushing using a pet dental product is the most important thing you can do to prevent periodontal disease. In addition, regular dental examinations by your veterinarian are very important. Remember, prevention IS the best medicine.