What is periodontal disease?
In part 2 of our pet dental health focus,the emphasis this month is on the identification and treatment of periodontal disease in pets.
Periodontal disease is simply disease around the outside of the tooth which, importantly, includes the part of the tooth below the gum line that is not visible to pet owners. Because our pets don’t brush or floss their teeth, they often suffer from periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is caused by increasing amounts of dental calculus (or plaque) on the outside of the tooth that harbours bacteria which then infects the tooth below the gum line. This infection results in progressive destruction of the jaw bone around the tooth and the periodontal ligament that attaches the tooth to the bone. Ultimately, if left untreated, periodontal disease results not only inthe loss of the tooth but also significant loss of the jawbone associated withholding that tooth in place.
The only way to accurately diagnoseperiodontal disease is to take dental x-rays to assess the health of the boneand tooth roots below the gum line. This is done in a very similar way that adentist would assess our teeth in a dentistry practice, however, our petsrequire a general anaesthetic to have this completed. Unfortunately, the onlyway to treat advanced periodontal disease is to remove the tooth that isinfected so prevention is much better than cure!
The best way to prevent periodontal diseaseis via removal and prevention of dental calculus (or plaque). Dental calculusis removed from our pets in the same way it is in people – using an ultrasonicdental scaler, the teeth are then polished afterwards to provide additionalprotection. The best way to prevent the build-up of dental calculus is brushingat home using special pet tooth brushes and tooth paste. There are alsopreventative dental diets, water additives and dental chews available that alsoeffectively prevent periodontal disease.
This month we are offering free dental health check-ups for your pet, drop in and see us at either of our Sydney Animal Hospitals at Newport or Avalon.