Your dog's oral health is essential to their overall well-being, but unfortunately, many dogs don't receive the at-home dental care they need to keep their gums and teeth healthy. Our Los Angeles vets explain how dog periodontal disease can be treated and prevented.
What is canine periodontal disease?
Periodontitis, also known as gum disease or periodontal disease, is a condition caused by a build-up of plaque on a dog's teeth, which eventually causes infection or other health issues. There tend not to be any obvious signs of periodontal disease in dogs in the early stages of the condition. Symptoms in its more advanced stage include chronic pain, tooth loss, gum erosion, or even bone loss.
What causes periodontal disease in dogs?
Unchecked bacteria in your dog's mouth can turn into plaque and tartar. If left untreated, tartar makes the gums recede, leading to problems like abscesses, bone loss, and loose teeth.
Small breeds can even experience jaw fractures. Poor diet, dirty toys, over-grooming, and crowded teeth can also increase the risk of gum disease in dogs.
How can I tell if my dog has periodontal disease?
As periodontal disease is fairly undetectable, you may notice the following symptoms in advanced periodontal disease:
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Loose or missing teeth teeth
- Blood on chew toys or in a water bowl
- Excessive drooling
- Favoring one side of the mouth when chewing
- Reduced appetite
- Discolored teeth (yellow or brown)
- Inflamed or bleeding gums
- Problems keeping food in the mouth
- Weight loss
- Bloody or "ropey" saliva
Periodontal disease is a serious health concern for our dogs. It can be painful and negatively affect your dog's bodily health as bacteria on the gums can travel into the bloodstream and affect major organs like the heart or kidney. If you notice any of the above symptoms in your pup, take them to the vet right away.
How to Treat Periodontal Disease in Dogs
When you bring your dog in for periodontal disease, your vet may recommend a professional cleaning or other treatments depending on the severity of the dog's oral condition. Your dog's dental care costs will vary depending on the treatment required.
Before checking your dog's gum health in detail, they'll need anesthesia. It's also vital to do a blood test before giving anesthesia to make sure your dog is healthy enough for it.
Dog dental procedures usually involve:
- A pre-anesthetic physical assessment
- A complete oral examination
- Teeth cleaning
- Teeth polishing
- Dental X-rays
- Fluoride treatment
- Dental sealant
How can I prevent my dog from developing periodontal disease?
Prevention of this disease is relatively easy; in many cases, you can avoid periodontal disease by regularly brushing your dog's teeth and bringing them for annual or bi-annual dental checkups.
Brushing helps reduce plaque, and dental chews or toys can also keep their teeth clean. See your vet immediately if your dog shows signs like swollen gums or lost teeth.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.