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Periodontal Disease in Dogs and Cats

Dental X-Ray: Periodontal Disease in Dogs and Cats

My Teeth Hurt!

Periodontal disease in dogs and cats can be a serious health concern as well as a painful situation for your favorite furry friend.

Can you imagine not brushing your teeth for a week? A year? Five years?! People brush their teeth twice a day, and it is recommended that we see the dentist TWICE A YEAR. But our pets are unable to brush their teeth and may only get their teeth cleaned professionally 2 to 5 times in their LIFETIME.

Pets can’t tell us if they have a toothache or a sore spot on their gums. Periodontal disease in cats and dogs may make them chew their food gingerly or swallow it whole in order to avoid chewing on a painful tooth. Most pet owners won’t notice that happening. Pet owners must usually rely on their veterinarian to inform them when their pet needs in-depth dental care.

What is periodontal disease in dogs and cats?

In dogs and cats we use a 4-tier staging system for periodontal disease. “Periodontal” is a fancy word for the tissues that the surround the teeth. The staging is as follows:

  • Stage 1

    • Gingivitis without bone loss (the ONLY reversible stage)
  • Stage 2

    • Early periodontitis, 25% bone loss (where bone = the bone surrounding and supporting each tooth)
  • Stage 3

    • Moderate periodontitis, 25-50% bone loss
  • Stage 4

    • Advanced periodontitis, greater than 50% bone loss

Saliva and bacteria lead to plaque and calculus formation on the surface of the teeth. In combination with gingivitis, this leads to breakdown of the periodontal ligament and bone loss, which leads to mobility of the tooth. Infection at the tooth root can also occur.

Periodontal Disease in Dogs and Cats

Periodontal Disease in Dogs

The following website has some great pictures of the stages of periodontal disease with their corresponding x-rays: 5 stages of pet periodontal disease.

What does it mean when my vet says my pet needs a “dental cleaning”?

A dental cleaning means your pet will be placed under general anesthesia and the following will be performed:

  • Probing and charting of each tooth to determine its health- we check for gingival pockets, gingival recession, cavities, resorptive lesions, fractures, furcation exposure, mobility, etc.
  • Scaling and polishing (the actual cleaning of the teeth)
  • Full mouth x-rays
  • Extraction planning- it is best to plan a separate anesthetic procedure for any needed extractions

Not all veterinarians perform charting and/or x-rays during dental cleanings. At Lancaster Veterinary Hospital we strive to provide the highest quality care for your pets, and we do perform these services with EVERY dental cleaning.

Regular Dental Cleanings To Avoid Periodontal Disease in Dogs and Cats

What if we just leave the teeth alone?

Your pet’s teeth will become severely infected, the infection will eat away at the bone holding the teeth in, and the teeth will eventually fall out leaving behind pockets of disease. This is an EXTREMELY painful process. The bacteria that is present around your pet’s infected teeth can spread through the bloodstream to the heart, liver and kidneys which leads to disease within those organs. By cleaning your pet’s teeth, we are protecting the rest of their body from harmful bacterial infections and removing a source of pain.

Be sure to schedule an appointment to have your pet’s teeth checked! Thank you for choosing Lancaster Veterinary Hospital for the care of your four-legged family members. Call us if you have any questions about periodontal disease in dogs and cats: 859-792-2105.

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