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Periodontal Disease In Dogs (Dental Disease)

Periodontal disease starts when bacteria form plaque on the teeth. Within days, minerals in the saliva bond with the plaque to form tartar, a hard substance that adheres to the teeth. The bacteria work their way under the gums and cause gingivitis.

Once under the gums bacteria destroy the supporting tissue around the tooth leading to tooth loss. Inflammation of the bone and tooth support structures is referred to as periodontitis. The combination of gingivitis and periodontitis is known as periodontal disease. Bacteria associated with dental disease can travel in the bloodstream and infect the heart, kidneys, and liver.

Signs of Periodontal Disease:

The signs of periodontal disease include:

  • Bad breath
  • Redness or bleeding along the gum line 
  • Drooling, which may be tinged with blood                                        
  • Difficulty chewing                                                                           
  • Pawing at the mouth                                                                       
  • Loose or missing teeth                               
  • Facial Swelling, especially under the eyes
  • Nasal discharge
  • Gum recession

Diagnosis and Treatment:

Your veterinarian can see signs of gingivitis and tartar build up by examining your pet's mouth. However, since most periodontal disease occurs beneath the gum line, the only way to truly assess your pet's mouth is to perform and examination while your pet is under anesthesia. They can use a dental probe to measure any loss of attachment around each tooth.

Treatment depends on the severity of the disease. If your pet has a mild periodontal disease, consisting of gingivitis without any bone loss, a thorough dental cleaning that includes the area beneath the gums, followed by dental polishing can help reverse the problem. If there is a loss of the supporting structures around the teeth, however, this cannot be reversed. Your veterinarian may need to extract the tooth.

Prevention:

An important way to prevent dental disease is regular home dental care. Daily brushing can help remove plaque before it turns to tartar. You can use a pet toothbrush or a finger brush from your veterinarian.

*Do not use human toothpaste for your pet, it can be toxic to dogs in large quantities

Pet toothpaste are available, commonly in flavors that they may like. 

If your dog won't permit brushing, there are alternatives but they are not as effective in preventing buildup.

Source American Veterinary Dental College

We perform dental checks in all our exams and provide access to dental cleaning for your pets. Call 530-878-2009 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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