Periodontal disease is the most common condition among dogs. By the time they turn three, the symptoms of this disease are revealed. Periodontal disease can be classified into two types, namely, gingivitis and periodontitis. When food particles are deposited along a dog's gumline, it forms a substance called plaque which when mixed with saliva and other minerals, turns into dental calculus. This leads to irritation, inflammation, and bleeding of the gums known as gingivitis. When left untreated, they extend from the gums to the bones, due to which the roots become infected, causing the tooth to loosen and eventually detach. This leads to a condition known as periodontitis.
Gum diseases can have a negative impact on a dog's health, too. He might experience a problem in eating. There's a chance that the bacteria present in the tooth, will spread to other parts of the body via the bloodstream; thus, affecting it. It may give rise to dog allergies, pus formation, and tissue destruction in the cavities between the teeth and gums. If not given proper treatment, there are chances of the dog dying.
Grades of Gum Disease
The grades range from I to IV. These are based on different aspects like the distribution and amount of plaque and calculus that has affected the dog's gums, its radiological appearance, condition of the gums, and so on.
- Grade I: This is when you notice slightly inflamed and swollen gums, with a thin layer of white or yellow tartar around the teeth.
- Grade II: Here the inflammation increases and leads to bleeding when probed.
- Grade III: Severe gum disease becomes evident in this stage. While the gums become cherry-red in color, they bleed even if they are lightly probed. There will be pustular discharge and slight to moderate bone loss.
- Grade IV:This is the most advanced stage of gum disease where there is severe bone loss. It might end up losing some or all of its teeth.
- Dogs are more prone to gum diseases because of their open-mouth breathing habit.
- The amount of acid present inside the saliva may be one reason.
- The accumulation of food particles or bacteria on the gums gives rise to plaque which can be a serious problem.
- The plaque, minerals, and saliva form the calculus which leads to the irritation and inflammation of the gums.
- Consumption of the wrong kind of food can lead to this. It creates spaces between the teeth; therefore, helping bacteria grow.
- The most commonly observed symptom is bad breath. Bad breath is also referred to as halitosis.
- Difficulty in chewing and eating.
- The color of the gums change to red. Reddening is observed in the initial stages.
- The gums tend to bleed easily.
- The teeth tend to have become loose or can go missing.
- The dog can suffer from intestinal problems or a stomach upset due to the presence of harmful bacteria.
- You will observe a dog pawing at its mouth.
- There's a sudden and abrupt change in the dog's behavior. He may tend to be nervous and depressed.
Diagnosis and Treatment
To diagnose this type of disease, X-rays are usually done along with radiographic imaging. This is important because up to 60 percent of the symptoms are present beneath the gumline which cannot be seen by the naked eye. It also involves bone rebuilding. Here are some of the treatments available:
- Tooth extraction: This is the most common method, especially if the teeth are affected to such an extent that it cannot be saved.
- Scaling and root planing:In this procedure, the teeth are cleaned and scaled by removing all traces of plaque and calculus, until the root surface is clean.
- Mucogingival surgery: This surgery addresses deep periodontal defects and repositions the gingival tissue.
- Local antibiotic treatment: This is a non-surgical procedure. Here, Doxirobe (gel-based medication) is mixed with Doxycycline (antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections), is injected into periodontal pockets.