Pet Dentistry: Gingivitis and Gum Disease

One of the most common and potentially medically harmful conditions seen in veterinarian’s offices is periodontal disease, because the initial infection, known as gingivitis, can spread very quickly.

Gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums, is caused when teeth are not properly cleaned and bacteria is allowed to build up between the teeth and gum area. Generally, a dog’s gums lie tight and close against their teeth. When teeth are not treated properly, plaque builds up and calcifies into a hard covering that pushes the gums away from the teeth, letting food and bacteria lodge under the gums. This results in irritation, inflammation, infection and bleeding.

Your dog’s teeth need to be cleaned regularly, and you should watch for signs of irritation. Any soft, yellowish-brown plaque should be brushed and scraped off immediately before it is allowed to sit and harden, turning to calculus (tartar).

Gingivitis in dogs is more commonly found in older dogs, as well as dogs that eat a diet of soft, canned foods, rather than dry food and bones. In addition brachycephalic (flat-faced) dogs like Pugs, Pekingese and Boxers are at increased risk of developing gingivitis due to the formation of their mouth and jaw and the crowding in the way their teeth are placed.

If you believe your dog or dog puppy has gingivitis, you should immediately seek help from your veterinarian, as leaving the condition untreated could allow bacteria to spread through the dog’s bloodstream and be potentially life-threatening to your pet. Signs that your dog has gingivitis include build-up of a yellow-brown plaque, red and swollen gums that are often puss-filled or bleeding, bad breath, excessive production of saliva and a reluctance on your pet’s part to eat or chew, even when they are hungry, due to the resulting pain.

Once your veterinarian has identified gingivitis, they will generally sedate your dog, and conduct a professional cleaning, scaling and polishing of your dog’s teeth in order to remove all the accumulated debris, bacteria and plaque. In addition, they will often prescribe oral antibiotics for your dog in order to prevent any issue arising from any bacteria that may have entered the bloodstream during the cleaning process.  In addition, rinsing your dog’s mouth with our special V4B anti-septic dental rinse can help kill bacteria at the source.

It is important that you follow up your dog’s treatment with regular cleanings to prevent reinfection, but if caught in time, gingivitis is completely reversible and will have your dog feeling happy and healthy in no time.