Periodontal disease is the number one health problem in small animals. Periodontal disease includes gingivitis (inflammation or redness of the gums) and periodontitis (loss of bone and soft tissue around the teeth). There are 4 stages of periodontal disease.
In Stage 1 periodontal disease, the teeth are coated with plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, and your pet may have some gingivitis. At this point there is no bone loss and dental treatment can reverse the condition.
In Stage 2 periodontal disease, the gums are swollen and the teeth are covered with both plaque and tartar. Tartar is the hard yellow substance that forms on teeth when plaque calcifies. Your pet’s mouth can be sore and bad breath is noticeable. At this stage there is less than 25% loss of the bone surrounding the teeth.
In Stage 3 periodontal disease, your pet will have consistently bad breath, a painful mouth, and bright red and even bleeding gums. You may notice that your pet’s mouth pain is so severe that it affects eating and behavior. At this stage there may be as much as 25% – 50% periodontal bone loss.
In Stage 4 periodontal disease, there is advanced periodontitis with chronic infection destroying the gums and teeth. Bone loss is usually greater than 50%. Bacteria from infected gums, teeth and bone may spread to the bloodstream and damage the kidneys, liver and heart.
Regardless of the stage of periodontal disease, many pets show minimal outward clinical signs, and thus therapy may not be initiated until late in the disease process. At Guilford Veterinary Hospital (Guilford, CT), we offer dental treatments for all stages. We especially recommend performing stage 1 dental treatments to keep your pet happy and healthy – and so periodontal disease does not progress to stages 2, 3 or 4.