Volume 5 Issue 6

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Why Is Periodontal Disease IMPORTANT? Periodontal disease (disease around the tooth) is the most common clinical condi on seen in domes c pets. Many of the serious health challenges in dogs and cats are related to their gums and teeth. How Periodontal Disease Forms A thin s cky salivary film of carbohydrates, fats and proteins called a pellicle, coats the teeth. Bacteria in the mouth feed on the pellicle and produce plaque, a s cky substance that adheres to the surface of the teeth. This is the "film" we feel on our teeth in the morning before we brush our teeth. Salivary calcium and other minerals further transform the plaque into a hardened (mineralized) substance called dental calculus, commonly called tartar. Tartar is firmly a ached to the teeth. Brushing your pets teeth daily helps reduce the plaque, just like it does for us, but once it hardens into calculus, brushing does not remove it! As the disease advances, plaque and calculus spread under the gum line. Bacteria living in the sub-gingival (under the gum line) plaque secrete toxins which destroy the suppor ng ssue for the tooth and eventually lead to pain and tooth loss. Due to the highly vascular (lots of blood supply) nature of the gums, the bacterial infec on and inflamma on in the gums can spread through the blood stream to all the other organs and may contribute to heart, kidney and liver disease. If nothing else, periodontal disease is a major source of chronic inflamma on to the immune system. Pets ea ng processed diets (kibble and canned having exceedingly high amounts of carbohydrates) are at highest risk for periodontal disease. Feeding grain free food does not reduce the carbohydrates in the diet. Pet food manufacturers simply changed from grains to tapioca and potato starch. Other Factors That Contribute To Periodontal Disease Animals with overcrowded or misaligned teeth are more prone to periodontal disease because food gets trapped between the teeth. Retained deciduous teeth (baby canine teeth that haven't fallen out on their own) also result in a higher incidence of periodontal disease due to teeth crowding. There Are Four Recognized Stages Of Periodontal Disease Stage 1: Mild Gingivi s. Mild tartar is present and the gums are reddened and slightly swollen. The gums are likely to be tender at this stage. Radiographically there is no bone loss. As tartar builds up along the gum line, the gum is forced away from the teeth. Pockets form between the gum and teeth, trapping food and bacteria. Stage 2: Moderate tartar and gingivi s may not seem very different from stage 1, but the significant difference is that bone loss is occurring and the tooth is star ng to lose its suppor ng structures. Bone loss can only be seen on radiographs! Interven on with dental cleaning at this stage can stop the progression of disease. Stage 3: The loss of tooth support has progressed and advanced periodontal procedures along with stringent plaque preven on are required to save the teeth. Stage 4: Periodontal disease is full blown and the animal Why Is Periodontal Disease IMPORTANT? Abby's Magazine - Volume 5 Issue 6 | Page 39

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