Periodontal disease is the most common infectious disease in pets. From the age of two years, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats are affected. The prevalence increases with age and is higher in small animals.
What does that mean?
You’ve probably heard this term before, but didn’t know what it really meant. Periodontal disease refers to a group of inflammatory diseases caused by the bacteria contained in dental plaque. These diseases lead to the destruction of the periodontium, which is the supporting tissue of the tooth, including the gum, cementum, periodontal ligament and alveolar bone.
How does it develop?
Periodontal disease is caused by the accumulation of dental plaque. It can be divided into two stages: gingivitis and periodontitis.
Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums caused by plaque and is reversible. In other words, by eliminating the cause, the gums will return to good health. Periodontitis is a more advanced stage. In fact, the infection and inflammation are located deeper in the periodontium and cause a lot of irreversible damage that can lead to the loss of the tooth. The presence of bad bacteria in a periodontal pocket (space between the tooth and the gum) and the animal’s immune reaction (inflammation) contribute to the destruction of the periodontium.
When severe periodontal disease is present, there can be several sequelae besides tooth loss:
- Oro-nasal fistula
- Pathological fracture of the mandible
- Loss of sight
- Oral cancer
- Chronic osteomyelitis
Bacteria causing periodontal disease can enter the bloodstream through the periodontal pockets and cause other problems throughout the body:
- Liver diseases
- Kidney problems
- Cardiovascular consequences
- Respiratory conditions
- And many others…
How to prevent it?
The prevention of periodontal disease relies mainly on the combination of veterinary care andoral hygiene given at home.
Scaling by a veterinarian can prevent the destruction of the periodontium before it is too late. It is important to remember that the owner’s knowledge and commitment to hygiene are very important elements in maintaining good oral health. Your veterinarian can direct you to the best products for your pet’s condition.
Zambori C and al. Biofilm Implication in Oral Diseases of Dogs and Cats. Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnologies, 2012, 45(2).
Roudebush P, Logan E, Hale FA. Evidence-based veterinary dentistry: a systematic review of homecare for prevention of periodontal disease in dogs and cats. J Vet Dent. 2005 Mar;22(1):6-15.
Albuquerque C and al. Canine periodontitis: the dog as an important model for periodontal studies. Vet J. 2012 Mar;191(3):299-305