Periodontal Disease

According to the American Academy of Periodontology (www.perio.org) “approximately 75% of adults in the United States are affected by some form of periodontal disease, ranging from mild cases of gingivitis to the more severe form, periodontitis. However, recent research conducted by the AAP and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests that periodontal prevalence rates in the US may have been underestimated by as much as 50 percent.”

The American Veterinary Dental College (www.avdc.org), points out that “Periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition occurring in adult dogs and cats, and is entirely preventable. By three years of age, most dogs and cats have some evidence of periodontal disease. Unfortunately, other than bad breath, there are few signs of the disease process evident to the owner and professional dental cleaning and periodontal therapy often comes too late to prevent extensive disease or to save teeth. As a result, periodontal disease is usually under-treated, and may cause multiple problems in the oral cavity and may be associated with damage to internal organs in some patients as they age.”

While gingivitis affects only the gums, periodontitis can affect all of the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth. A shallow, V-shaped crevice – called a sulcus – exists between the teeth and gums. Periodontal disease attacks just below the gum line in the sulcus, causing attachment of the tooth and supporting tissues to break down. As the tissues are damaged, the sulcus develops into a deepening pocket. As the severity of the disease increases, so does the depth of the pocket.

Unfortunately, it is possible to have periodontal disease without experiencing warning signs. That is why regular dental check-ups and periodontal exams are important. Early detection of periodontal disease can help prevent the progression of oral and non-oral health conditions linked to periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease is also an unseen and underestimated health risk in companion animals.

According to the 2010 American Veterinary Medical Association President Dr. James Cook, “Oral disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem for pets”. Animas often mask pain, and the pain and discomfort of periodontal disease are often overlooked by even the most conscientious and attentive owner. Periodontal disease primarily goes undiagnosed and untreated until it is in the more advanced stages, making it more difficult, and costly, to manage. As with humans, left untreated, diseases of the oral cavity can contribute to other local or systemic diseases. More…