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Flash those pearly whites, Fido!

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smiling dogBo, the cat with the charming smile: Jessie, our resident dog, is out today.  In fact, I hope she is at the dentist’s office, as I just read an article about gum disease in dogs.  I would hate to see her suffer from that, particularly since I have such an award-winning smile! (Turns to look into a strategically-placed mirror…pauses for a moment…and then returns to this commentary.)  Oh!  I’m sorry.  You’re still here!  Wow!  I was momentarily blinded by my bright smile.  As I was saying, periodontal disease is an inflammation of some or all of a tooth’s deep supporting structures.  It is also one of the most common diseases in dogs.

If particles of food and bacteria accumulate along a dog’s gumline, plaque will soon form, and when that is combined with saliva and minerals, it can turn into calculus, and that is not something you will find in a math book!  This leads to gum irritation and eventually to an inflammatory condition called gingivitis.  When this occurs, the gums directly bordering the teeth will appear quite red and this is indicative of the early stages of gum disease.  You humans, too, have to exercise preventative measures in terms of your dental care.

Periodontal disease can affect both cats and dogs.  (The horror!  I brush and floss regularly!) However, it is more common in older animals. (A good kitty, however, never reveals his true age!)

Periodontal disease first presents with the inflammation of one tooth, and, if left untreated, can progess to different stages of the disease. In Stage 1, the dog may exhibit gingivitis without any separation of the gum and the tooth.  In Stage 2, there could be as much as a 25% attachment loss, and by Stage 3, up to a 30% loss. Stage 4, also known as advanced periodontitis, there is more than a 50% loss in attachment. As the disease advances, the gum tissue will typically recede, exposing the roots of the teeth. (Ew!  Gross!)

With dogs, the most common cause of periodontal disease is due to streptococcus and actinomyces bacteria.  The smaller toy breeds and those that groom themselves are at a greater risk of developing the disease.  Poor nutrition is also a contributing factor.

Treatment depends upon how advanced the disease is. In the early stages, the focus is on removing the plaque buildup and preventing attachment loss.  This is done through daily brushing with animal-safe toothpaste, professional cleaning and polishing, and the application of fluoride.

In stages 2 and 3, treatment requires cleaning the space between the gums and the teeth and the application of an antibiotic gel that allows for the rejuvenation of the gum tissues and decreases the size of the space.

For the more advanced cases, bone replacement, periodontal splinting, and guided tissue regeneration may be necessary.

The overall prognosis depends on the severity of the disease.  The best way to minimize the ill affects caused by periodontal disease in dogs is to get an early diagnosis, along with proper treatment and therapy.

Thanks for tuning in today, folks!  Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go gargle and focus on that minty-fresh breath of mine! Keep smiling!  (I smile to show off my teeth.  However, Jessie thinks my continual smile means I am up to no good…either way, I am having a blast!)

(Thanks to for this awesome information!)


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