Key Points About Dental Disease:

  • Periodontal disease is the number one health problem in small animal patients.
  • By 2 years of age, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some form of periodontal disease. Small and toy breed dogs are particularly susceptible.
  • Even after teeth are completely cleaned, plaque forms on tooth surfaces within 24 hours.
  • Lack of homecare for 1 week can result in gingivitis in some patients; for 3 weeks, in all patients.
  • One veterinary study found that pockets became reinfected within 2 weeks of dental cleaning if homecare was not performed.
  • Research has shown that inflammation persists while the gingiva is exposed to plaque but that inflammation will resolve after plaque removal.
  • Dental disease, especially periodontal disease, is the number one cause of oral osteomyelitis-an area of dead, infected bone.
  • The size of the oral cavity (and teeth) of animal patients means that periodontal infections likely represent a more severe issue in veterinary patients than in the majority of humans
  • It is critical to note that even gingivitis (i.e., no periodontal loss) can create systemic consequences.
  • Avoiding professional cleanings is not good medicine, especially in pets susceptible to the negative effects of bacteremias, such as those with diabetes mellitus, renal/hepatic disease, or heart murmurs/low grade heart disease.
  • These patients should undergo professional dental therapy due to the health benefits it provides.

Article from Today’s Veterinary Practice March/April 2012 Issue