Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is the most common health problem of dogs and cats. Did you ever notice that your gums bleed if you floss after skipping a couple of days, even if you’ve been brushing twice a day? It only takes a couple of days for plaque bacteria to incite an inflammatory response in the gum tissue. Think of the inflammation in your pet’s gums, if his or her teeth are almost never brushed and he or she does not have professional dental cleaning performed on a regular basis!
At Aggie Animal Dental Center, dental cleaning is not a cosmetic procedure. Yes, the teeth certainly look a lot better when we are finished, but our primary goal is to remove the plaque and tartar BELOW the gumline, where they cause inflammation. We use ultrasonic scaling units with several different tips, allowing us to clean teeth of all shapes and sizes both above and below the gumline. Scaling is followed by polishing, to remove any etches in the enamel that the scalers might cause and to provide as smooth a surface as possible to slow down plaque accumulation.
In order to determine if your pet has bone loss associated with periodontal disease, we obtain full-mouth radiographs and perform comprehensive oral health examination on every patient presented for periodontal treatment.
If bone loss is present, then one of 3 treatment options may be presented:
1. Advanced periodontal therapy: Scaling and root planing are performed with curettes, specialized hand instruments. We may also place an antibiotic directly into a pocket in order to prevent immediate reinfection and allow new bone formation.
2. Guided tissue regeneration: This procedure involves gum surgery, open root planing, and placement of bone graft. It is used to restore bone around an important tooth that has significant bone loss in one or two specific areas but not affecting the entire tooth.
3. Extraction. Teeth that have lost 40% or more of their supporting bone will require extraction. In addition, in cases where toothbrushing at home is impossible and/or the patient cannot return for follow-up x-rays and periodontal treatment every 6-12 months, teeth with >30% bone loss should be extracted.
To learn more about periodontal disease, click here to read our client handout.