Periodontitis is an extension of gingivitis. As the amount of infection (gingivitis) increases and subsequently travels towards the roots of the tooth it becomes trapped under the gums. Next, the infection begins to eat away at the gum tissue that is attached to the cementum of the tooth creating a large sulcus or pocket. Eventually, the infection will destroy the periodontal ligament and bonny tissues that hold the teeth in the jaw. This slow but relentless process is called periodontal disease.
In the dog there is generally two responses that are possible to a chronic infection of the gingiva; 1. gingival recession or gingival hypertrophy. Hypertrophy of the gingiva (excess growth) occurs more often, for some unknown reason, in certain breeds of dogs. This can result, if left unchecked, in a complete covering of the tooth. Gingival recession is the more frequent response with periodontitis in the dog. This can eventually result in a complete exposure of the roots of the tooth.
Once this process starts it does not stop but rather slowly progresses to eventual tooth loss. This condition is a “silent” condition because you can’t see it and the pet can’t feel it happening. The diagnosis is made by probing the periodontal area and is confirmed by taking a x-ray. It is always best if periodontal disease is detected early so that the process can be managed with medicine and treatment to restore general health to the mouth. Diligent home care, such as brushing daily, is the key to slowing or arresting the progress of the disease. In addition, infection can be contained to the mouth and not allowed to spread to the rest of the body.