Periodontal Disease and Your Pet: The Facts

periodontal diseaseHeading into February, we tend to pay special attention to pet dental health—because it’s Pet Dental Health Awareness Month.

Realistically, though, dental health is important all year round, and a clean mouth, or a dirty one, can affect many of your pet’s organs.

In fact, periodontal disease can cause serious long-term health concerns if left untreated. And it’s surprisingly common.

That’s why it’s valuable to know these facts—today and always – about periodontal disease. If nothing else, this knowledge will motivate you to follow up with regular cleanings – an important part of the dental health equation.

1. An estimated 80% or more of pets in the United States will have a run-in with gum disease by the time they’re three years old. It’s the most common clinical conditions in both adult cats and dogs.

2. Periodontal disease is preventable. Regular brushing, dental cleanings and certain food or water additives can act as parts of a regimen to stop its emergence.

3. The disease begins with the bacteria that cause plaque. They, plus saliva and minerals, lead to tartar buildup, and that can lead to plaque and tartar spreading underneath the gum line. The bacteria in the plaque can damage tissues around the tooth, eventually leading to tooth loss.

4. Bacteria also can cause an immune system reaction, wherein the white blood cells get a bit overprotective and actually damage the tissue themselves.

5. Periodontal disease has two main components: gingivitis and periodontitis.

6. Treatment can require anesthesia. Because some symptoms are not immediately evident to the human eye, even some examinations may require anesthesia.

7. Studies have shown that periodontal disease can be related to health concerns in organs such as the liver, kidney, heart and lungs. Bacteria can be moved through the bloodstream or inhaled, causing these changes.

What else do you need to know? The main fact about periodontal disease that we all need to stare in the teeth is this: it’s common, and it’s preventable. Reach out to your vet if you have questions about the best cleaning methods. In between cleans, keep your pets teeth and breath fresh with Perio Support, which you can purchase from your vet, too!