Gingivitis is an inflammatory response and/or infection of the gumline in the mouth. It is the earliest stage of periodontal disease which encompasses the teeth, gums, and bone. There is a normal level of bacteria that is in the mouths of people and animals, and without daily oral hygiene, these bacterias can rise to significant levels.
The gingival tissue adheres to the surface of the tooth, and the excessive levels of bacteria can erode that adherence leading to deep dental pockets. These bacteria can then begin to erode at the surface of the tooth as well as the bone leading to tooth decay and loosening of the teeth.
Dental disease and gingivitis occurs in greater than 85% of companion animals. It is one of, if not the most common true disease in pets. Small breed and toy breeds seem to be affected most commonly although large breed pets suffer with disease as well. The most common clinical sign is halitosis (bad breath) and discoloration of the teeth. A thorough examination of the mouth may find eroding gum lines, loose teeth, and even broken teeth. Dental x-rays are beneficial to see the health (or disease) of the bone and teeth.
Treatment of dental disease and gingivitis consists of a thorough deep cleaning and polishing, all of which requires sedation. Any loose teeth require extraction as well as broken teeth. Once the dental is complete, at home oral hygiene is paramount consisting of brushing, approved dental treats, and/or enzymatic cleaners. Dental disease can unfortunately lead to other more serious diseases such as heart or kidney conditions. If you have any questions, please bring your pet in for a thorough mouth inspection and set up a dental cleaning today!