Preventing Pet Periodontal Disease

Can Periodontal Disease in Pets be Prevented? 

In order to prevent gingivitis and the more advanced stages of PD, plaque must kept from accumulating on and around the teeth.  The single most effective means of removing plaque is by mechanical “tooth brushing”.  Most dogs and cats that have not received any form of oral hygiene will have gingivitis.  The recommendation should be daily tooth brushing if the animal will allow it.  Chew toys and other oral devices should be considered only adjunctive treatment to brushing.  They do not provide any positive effects for pets than they would for a human and they do not replace the need for tooth brushing. Pet tooth brushing is the gold standard for preventative oral health care.

A general recommendation is that dogs and cats should have their teeth professionally (supra-gingival as well as sub-gingival) cleaned at least once a year.  Simple “hand scaling” (cleaning without anesthesia) of plaque and calculus above the gum line accomplishes nearly nothing, provides a false sense of security and is considered “practicing veterinary medicine without a license” if performed by unlicensed persons.  Do not wait for signs of gingivitis or worse to appear.  If you are seeing plaque and calculus, noting gingival inflammation (red gum line, bleeding when toothbrushing), or halitosis, it is time for your dog or cat to have a professional veterinary dental cleaning.