According to the AVMA, "more than 85% of dogs and cats that are at least 4 years old have a condition in which bacteria attack the soft gum tissue. This condition is called periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is the final stage in a process that begins with the development of plaque on your pet's teeth."1
For the sake of your pet's health and comfort, periodontal disease is a threat that can't be ignored. Many of the signs of the disease are hard to miss. Bad breath, discolored teeth and swollen gums that may bleed easily can all be early indications of trouble. Late-stage periodontal disease can cause permanent damage, including loose teeth and tooth loss.
Periodontal disease begins when plaque, a mixture of bacteria and food debris, builds up on tooth surfaces and works its way under the gum line. Toxins released by the bacteria cause an inflammatory reaction that can lead to destruction of tissue and bone that anchor the teeth in place. If the bacteria enter the blood stream, they can even affect the heart, liver, and kidneys.2
Periodontal disease is not only serious, it's also more common than most owners realize. In fact, more than 80% of dogs have it by the time they're four years old. So, it's easy to understand why periodontal disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem in pets.3, 4
Preventing periodontal disease by keeping your pet's teeth and gums healthy isn't just a job for your veterinarian. It's your job, too.
While nothing can take the place of regular visits to the veterinarian for checkups and cleaning, ongoing follow-up oral care at home is just as important in controlling plaque and tartar formation.
1American Veterinary Medical Association. The Dental Health Page. Available at: http://www.avma.org/careforanimals/pawsforpets/dental.asp (Accessed on January 18, 2007)
2Wiggs R.B., Lobprise H.B. Periodontology. Veterinary Dentistry Principles and Practice. Philadelphia. Lippincott-Raven.1997:186-231.
3Mayers M. Dentistry basics: brighten your patients' smiles and their teeth. Veterinary Technician. 2002:80-86.
4 All Pets Dental Clinic. The Periodontal Disease Page. Available at: www.dentalvet.com/ (Accessed on April 30, 2004)