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Dentistry treatments for gingivitis and periodontal disease

02 December 2017
11 mins read
Volume 8 · Issue 10


Many cats and dogs present to the veterinary practice with established gingivitis, which may or may not have progressed to periodontal disease. Gingivitis is a condition that can be reversed, whereas periodontal disease cannot be reversed. It is the veterinary professional's responsibility to be examining all patient's oral cavities to identify signs of these inflammatory and disease processes, before advising the client about the best course of action to restore optimal oral health in their pet. This article aims to recap what periodontal disease is and how it develops from gingivitis due to the presence of plaque, before considering the treatment options for both gingivitis and periodontal disease.

Before treatments for gingivitis and subsequent periodontal disease are considered, the veterinary professional must contemplate exactly what is meant by the term periodontal disease. The disease is frequently referred to as gum disease as this is what clients will be better able to relate to from a terminology perspective, and it encompasses all plaque-associated disease processes that affect the peridontium. The most common category of periodontal disease is what some would call ‘adult-onset’ periodontal disease, as it tends to affect adult animals and the process begins with, and progresses due to the accumulation of plaque and bacteria (Gorrel, 2004). Periodontal disease affects many cats and dogs to some degree, so one should assume that every animal that walks through the practice door is affected by the disease until proven otherwise.

Managing periodontal disease can be quite a challenge for veterinary professionals because it is progressive and there is not one thing that can be done to prevent its development or halt its progress. Management strategies involve trying to reduce the amount of plaque present within the oral cavity of the patients via oral homecare techniques and products, which will in turn reduce the damage caused by plaque and the patient's response to its presence (Gorrel, 2004). It must be borne in mind that some animals will be much more severely affected by plaque than others, as host response to plaque's negative effect on the adjacent tissues is individual and can be exacerbated by underlying conditions/pathology too; this can make plaque control and oral health maintenance infinitely more difficult. The progression of periodontal disease is quite complex and is affected by a wide variety of factors besides plaque accumulation. Veterinary professionals must be aware of the aetiology and pathogenesis of the condition in depth to be able to truly help all patients; a person knowledgeable about the progression of a condition or disease is in a much better position to advise about preventative/management techniques, and thus really make a difference to the patient's health overall.

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