Periodontal disease is a very common condition in dogs and cats, with 80% of pets over the age of 3 affected to some degree.
Periodontal disease means disease around the outside of the tooth. The tooth sits in a socket, and is held there by periodontal ligaments. Periodontal disease takes place inside the socket the tooth sits in.
Bacteria are attracted to the tooth surface and form plaque. Plaque spreads into the gap between the tooth and the gum, leading to gingivitis (inflammation of the gum). Plaque eventually hardens into calculus, also known as tartar, and adheres to his teeth. If left untreated, calculus allows more bacterial growth, which with time destroys the periodontal ligament. Subsequently the tooth is lost, and if bone damage is severe enough the jaw can break. Eventually the infection will find its way into the blood stream and then into essential organs like the heart and kidneys.
The severity of periodontal disease is graded from 0 to 4. If there is disease present, our veterinarians will grade the disease in your pet's mouth from grade 1 to grade 4 depending on the severity of the disease.
Grade 0: A healthy mouth with no tartar or gingivitis
Grade 1: Early build-up of plaque and tartar with mild gingivitis (inflammation of gums). No loss of bone attachment.
Grade 2: Moderate build-up of plaque with some gingivitis. Up to 25% attachment loss, no bone damage.
Grade 3: Moderate to severe gingivitis with some teeth requiring extraction. 25-50% of the bone attachment is lost, bone damage and loss of bone is present.
Grade 4: Severe gingivitis with many teeth requiring extraction. >50% attachment loss, bone damage with loss of bone is present.
If no disease is present, now is the time to start preventative homecare, please talk to our nurses about the best options for your pet.
If there is Grade 1 or worse dental disease, then a scale and polish is recommended (for pets this needs to be done under general anaesthetic). It is preferable to do a scale and polish at Grade 1 so that we can halt the progression of gum disease. At this stage changes are reversible, however if periodontal disease progresses past Grade 2, changes are not reversible and extractions will be needed.
At All Pets we now offer a significantly reduced price for Grade 1 scale and polishes. This is to encourage pet owners to have their pet's teeth professionally cleaned earlier in the course of dental disease, so that their pet's mouth remains healthier and pain free. A recheck appointment with one of our experienced nurses is included at no extra cost. At this visit we can help to formulate a homecare plan to suit you and your pet. Proper homecare is important, it does not eliminate the need for regular scaling and polishing, but it will reduce the frequency that scaling is required.
It is important to check your pet's mouth regularly. Signs of disease to look out for include bad breath, the presence of tartar, and red inflamed gums. A thorough dental check with your veterinarian is recommended every 6 months for most pets (and at a minimum every 12 months).
It is important to realise that pets will not show obvious signs of pain or difficulty eating until late in the disease process. Dogs are pack animals and showing weakness is not part of their nature. They need to eat to survive so won't go off their food until the pain is unbearable.
If your pet has any stage of periodontal disease is present, it should be treated as soon as possible. It will only get worse if left untreated, causing more discomfort for your pet, and additional expense for you.
Our long term goal for your pet is for them to be pain free and retain all their teeth in healthy condition for their entire life.
Have a look in your pet's mouth today!