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Dental Problems

Periodontal disease

Periodontal disease is the most common disease in adult dogs and cats and includes gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis and periodontitis are the inflammation of the gums and periodontium respectively. Periodontium is a collective name for the supporting tissues surrounding the teeth and comprises gingiva, periodontal ligament, alveolar bone and the root. Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria located on the teeth and the periodontium.

 Stages of periodontal disease

Periodontal disease is a painful condition and can lead to loose teeth, abscesses or bone loss or infection. Periodontal disease typically starts with plaque formation and progresses to destruction of the periodontium and the eventual loss of teeth.  Plaque is a film of bacteria and sugars that constantly forms and sticks to the surface of the teeth. Unremoved plaque hardens into tartar (calculus) and remains attached to the teeth firmly. This tartar build up results in gingivitis, which is characterised by swelling, redness and inflammation of the gums. When the unchecked plaque and tarter formation spreads under the gum line, it encourages more bacterial growth and starts damaging the periodontium.  Based on disease progression, the four stages of periodontal disease are:

  • Early gingivitis
  • Advanced gingivitis
  • Early periodontitis
  • Established periodontitis

Symptoms of periodontal disease

Some signs of periodontal disease can include:

  • Persistent bad breath
  • Red, swollen, bleeding gums
  • Yellowish or brownish teeth
  • Loss of appetite
  • Drooling
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Stomach or other digestive problems
  • Irritable or depressed mood
  • Tooth loss

What factors affect the occurrence and progression of periodontal disease?

Several factors listed below affect the development of periodontal disease.

  • Age :  dental disease is more common in older animals
  • Breed:  Smaller breeds of dogs are more susceptible to periodontal disease as they are more likely to have overcrowded or misaligned teeth that are difficult to clean
  • Food: sticky dog foods encourage more rapid plaque accumulation on the teeth, thus increasing the risk of the periodontal disease
  • Home care: daily brushing of your dog’s teeth can effectively reduce plaque and tartar formation and therefore the overall risk of the dental disease

How is periodontal disease treated?

The stage of periodontal disease determines its specific treatment. For example early stage treatment focuses on controlling plaque by regular brushing and professional cleansing , but more advanced forms of the disease require cleansing of the spaces between the gums and teeth and application of antibiotic gels to recover the damage to the periodontium. The most advanced form of periodontal disease is treated by bone replacement procedures, and tissue regeneration techniques.  



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