So we've discussed gingivitis and periodontal disease. But what exactly is it? How do I know if my pet has it?
As they say, a picture's worth a thousand words:
- White teeth
- Breath which has an acceptable odor
- Properly colored gum tissue (coral pink)
- Firm gum tissue which evenly and tightly circles the tooth
These two images are from the same dog. These are normal xrays of a molar.
Moderate gingivitis and early periodontitis:
Inflammation fo the gums or gingivitis (the first stage of periodontal disease) begins when a sufficient amount of plaque and calculus are allowed to develop. A mouth in this stage of disease will usually show the following symptoms:
- Yellowing of the teeth
- Bad breath
- Reddening of the coral pink gum tissue
- Slight softening and loosening of the gum tissue encircling the tooth
These two images are from the same dog. The x-ray shows slight bone loss and the dark halo around the tip of the left root of the largest tooth is an abscess
If the gingivitis goes untreated over a period of time, the pet may begin to suffer from painful inflammation of the gums that leads to a profound and irreversible separation of the gum tissue from the rooth. This separation is a visual indication of the shrinking bone mass and loss of ligament support of the tooth.
Advanced periodontal disease
This stage is the foremost cause of premature tooth loss in pets today. This stage of the disease involves a combination of the following:
- Soreness of the gums (often evidences in the pet's inability to eat)
- Yellowed teeth (sometimes loose as well)
- Extremely bad breath
- Red, swollen gum tissue with areas of ulceration
- Softening of the gum tissue and separation of that tissue from the neck of the tooth, loss of bone support and probably loss of teeth
These two images are from the same dog. The x-rays show severe bone loss. These teeth were very loose and most of them had to be extracted.
Happily, proper treatment may arrest gingivitis before the pet ever experiences advanced periodontitis or separation of gum tissue from the tooth