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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Condition Overview

Periodontitis develops as a continuation of gingivitis. The teeth are held in their bony sockets by a substance called cementum and a specialized connective tissue called the periodontal membrane.


Swollen, infected gums and heavy calculus deposits (tartar) on the teeth.


The progression of gingivitis causes periodontitis.


Diagnosis is made by veterinary examination of the mouth.


The teeth should be professionally cleaned, scaled, and polished to remove all plaque and calculus. Many vets now use ultrasonic dental units, similar to the ones used on people, for cleaning dogs teeth. For optimum results, the dog should be heavily sedated, or given a general anesthetic.

Severe infections may necessitate removing a portion of the diseased gum (gingivectomy). In a dog with advances periodontitis, it may be necessary to extract some or all of the teeth before healing can begin. Once the gums are healed, a dog without teeth is able to eat surprisingly well. Antibiotics are given for 1 - 3 weeks, depending on the severity of the disease.

After care at home involves rinsing the mouth with 0.2% chlorhexidine solution (Peridex or Nolvadent) once or twice a day. Soak a cotton ball and gently swab the gums and teeth, or use a plastic syringe and squirt the antiseptic directly into the teeth and gums. You can also brush the dog's teeth with a tooth brush and a toothpaste made for dogs that contains chlorhexidine. Massage the gums with your finger, a piece of linen, or a soft gauze pad, using a gentle circular motion, while pressing on the outside surface of the gums. Continue the mouth washes and massages until the gums are healthy. Feed a soft diet consisting of canned food mixed with water to turn it to mush. Once healing is complete, plan out a good home dental program.

A product called Stomadhex, available through your vet, may prove to be an effective substitute for the after care just described. Stomadhex is a small adhesive patch that sticks to mucous membranes. The patch is applied to the inside surface of the upper lip. It stays in place for several hours and slowly releases chlorhexidine and a vitamin called nicotinamide that promotes oral hygiene. The sustained release delivery system helps to prevent dental plaque and tartar and aids in controlling bad breath. The patch is applied daily for 10 days following a dental procedure, or as recommended by your vet.


Pfizer has just released a new vaccine aimed at the primary bacteria found in cases of periodontitis: Porphyromonas denticanis, gulae, and salivosa. The vaccine is aimed at preventing and helping in the treatment of periodontitis. It is currently undergoing more efficacy tests and is not recommended at this time.


Please contact your veterinarian if you think your pet may have this condition.

Show Sources & Contributors +


Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

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