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Periodontal Disease

Let’s face it. We all love our pets and want the absolute best for them. But, have you noticed that terrible odor emanating from your dog’s mouth while he’s snuggled up next to you in the recliner, or when your cat starts grooming himself while curled up on your lap? As pet owners, most of us have, and most of us have probably ignored it or considered it normal because he’s an “animal.” However, this is not necessarily a normal or healthy condition. This is a symptom of the most commonly diagnosed disease in veterinary medicine: periodontal disease with gingivitis.

Periodontal disease with gingivitis is infection of the gingiva (gums) with involvement of the neighboring teeth above and, likely, below the gum line. The foul odor noticed is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what’s actually happening inside the pet’s mouth. Picture this: your pet eats his meal twice daily, and small amounts of plaque (bacteria and sticky food material) begin to collect on the teeth. This adds up over time, hardens and turns into a cement-like material known as tartar. Within the tartar, there are thousands of tiny pores where bacteria hide and live, and because the mouth is such a nutrient-rich environment, they grow and reproduce exponentially. Here is where we begin to notice the smell, and here is where the point of infection has been reached.

Unfortunately, once infection has taken hold, there is no reversing it, and infection above the gum line spreads to the tissues and bone deep below the gums. Now we have a much larger problem, because there is now involvement of the structures which hold the tooth in place as well as the bone surrounding it. Furthermore, all of the blood that flows through the mouth is flowing through vital organs such as the heart, liver and kidneys. This explains why disease within these organs has been linked to periodontal disease in animals and in humans.

Fortunately there is a solution to this problem. Prevention via brushing your pet’s teeth will always be best, but is oftentimes not convenient or even achievable. However, seeing your veterinarian twice yearly for your pet’s physical exam will allow the doctor to thoroughly examine the animal’s overall dental health and allow them to make recommendations regarding cleaning the teeth and treatment of disease if present. Scaling and polishing the pet’s teeth removes the infection at its source, leaving the mouth tarter free, and once again, healthy.

Presented Compliments of Beach Veterinary Clinic, Cortez, Florida, 941-792-2838


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