What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease, or Perio, stands out as the predominant concern in Veterinary Dentistry when it comes to dogs. Studies consistently reveal that a striking 80-85% of dogs aged three years or older grapple with some degree of Periodontal disease, making it a pervasive and critical focus in veterinary care. Importantly, this disease’s impact intensifies with age, signifying its chronic and progressive nature.

The casue of Perio is plaque. This seemingly innocuous material that build up on our teeth, is a complex material. Made up of multitudes of bacteria, both in number and types, they for what we call a biofilm. This biofilm is a large community of bacteria, all working together for their own betterment.

Plaque interacts with the immune system of the tissue it comes in contact with, and initially this is the gingiva or gums.

Despite its seemingly straightforward origins, Periodontal disease unfolds in a more intricate manner. The initial phase, known as Gingivitis, manifests as visibly inflamed and red gums. However, the positive aspect here is that Gingivitis is entirely reversible. It can be addressed effectively through the physical removal of plaque, particularly from beneath the gumline, allowing affected tissues to revert to normal.

When left untreated, Gingivitis advances to the irreversible stage of Periodontitis. In this phase, plaque accumulation deepens the gum-tooth pockets, initiating a destructive process. The immune response damages not only the gum tissue but also the ligaments and bone supporting the teeth. Ultimately, this progression leads to tooth loss, accompanied by pain and the risk of infection.

What elevates the concern beyond tooth-related issues is the systemic impact of Periodontal disease. Beyond causing tooth loss and bad breath, the bacteria within the plaque gain access to the dog’s bloodstream. Alongside the by-products of the immune response, these bacteria can wreak havoc on vital organs like the heart, kidneys, and liver, accentuating the significance of Periodontal disease beyond the oral cavity.

From a veterinary perspective, the emphasis on managing Periodontal disease is not merely cosmetic. Veterinarians prioritize this aspect of care to alleviate pain, prevent tooth loss, and safeguard a dog’s overall health. Routine dental care, coupled with early intervention in the case of Periodontal disease, contributes significantly to enhancing a dog’s longevity and well-being.