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Clinical Suite: Periodontal Disease

Mary Ann Vande Linde, DVM, Vande Linde & Associates, Brunswick, Georgia

Thomas Phillips, DVM, FAVD, Nassau Veterinary Hospital, Nassau, New York

Tina Patton, LVT, VTS (Dentistry), Nassau Veterinary Hospital, Nassau, New York

Nan Lillard, MA, University of Tennessee

January / February 2015|Peer Reviewed

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Clinical Suite: Periodontal Disease

Periodontal Disease Overview

Mary Ann Vande Linde, DVM, Vande Linde & Associates, LLC, Brunswick, GeorgiaThomas Phillips, DVM, FAVD, Nassau Veterinary Hospital, Nassau, New York

A study by the American Veterinary Dental Society showed that 80% of dogs and 70% of cats had developed periodontal disease by 3 years of age, making dental disease the most prevalent disease in companion animals.1 Multiple studies have found an association between periodontal disease and pathologic changes in internal organs and other measures of systemic inflammation.2-6 Oral infection, oral trauma, or malocclusions can cause pain and loss of function.

Periodontal disease results from the formation of biofilm (ie, a complex accumulation and organization of microbes) at the gingival margins, which develops microhabitats that promote both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria growth. Biofilm bacteria develop significantly greater resistance to antimicrobials, making antibiotics alone ineffective and potentially causing greater antimicrobial resistance; thus, plaque must be removed through dental cleaning.

Related Article: Clinic Protocol for Dental Disease

Common dental abnormalities in dogs include fractured teeth with or without pulp exposure, persistent deciduous teeth, impacted teeth that appear to be missing, and malocclusions with teeth causing trauma to apposing teeth or soft tissue. Common dental lesions in cats include tooth resorption and mucogingival stomatitis.

Periodontal disease results from the formation of biofilm (ie, a complex accumulation and organization of microbes) at the gingival margins.

Dental disease can often initially be evaluated in an awake patient; however, because much of the tooth structure is not visible on visual examination, a complete assessment is only possible through a comprehensive oral examination (with intraoral radiographs) in an anesthetized patient. Only then can a final treatment plan be made; thus, clients should be advised of potential treatment at the initial examination and must be present or available by phone at the time of examination to finalize the treatment plan and cost estimate. The primary care veterinarian may perform dental therapy if he or she has appropriate training and proper equipment, or the patient may be referred to a veterinary dental specialist for advanced therapies.

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