Periodontal disease is caused when plaque builds up on your pet’s teeth and turns to hard tartar. This creates bad breath, bleeding gums, gum erosion, tooth loss, and can even cause damage to their heart, lungs, and other internal organs.
Stage 1: Gingivitis
Inflammation of the gums in response to the presence of tartar and bacteria. You may observe some swelling of the gums. A thin red line on the gums next to the teeth may also be visible during this stage.
Stage 2: Early Periodontitis
Gums will be swollen and irritated, and probably bleed easily. There is loss of gum attachment to the tooth, forming areas known as periodontal pockets. Your pet may also experience bad breath and significant pain, and need to have infected and/or damaged teeth removed.
Stage 3: Moderate Periodontitis
Small amount of bone loss. You may notice inflammation of gums, bad breath, and some visible plaque and tartar. A professional cleaning will be needed to thoroughly remove the plaque and tartar, and to reverse the progress of dental disease.
Stage 4: Advanced Periodontitis
Bone loss of 50% or more is visible on oral radiographs. Your pet is not only in severe pain, they are at risk of losing multiple teeth, as well as systemic infection and damage to internal organs, due to bacteria from the mouth entering the bloodstream and spreading throughout the body.
Periodontal disease begins under the gumline and is not visible. Many dental disease conditions cannot be properly diagnosed or treated without taking radiographs of the tooth roots. Having dental radiographs allows veterinarians to make informed decisions about treatment options.
Photos courtesy of Mary Berg, BS, RVT, RLATG, VTS (Dentistry) Beyond the Crown Veterinary Education