What is Gingivitis?
If your dog has a red line where his teeth meet his gums, he probably has gingivitis, or Stage 1 Periodontal Disease. The gums are actually slightly inflamed where they are red. The condition is also characterized by plaque and tartar on the teeth next to the gum line. If allowed to persist, it can develop into periodontitis and tooth loss.
How does my dog get Gingivitis?
Plaque forms on the tooth surface within 24 hours after the surface is cleaned. It contains bacteria and other salivary components. The bacteria invade the gum tissue, causing inflammation.
How do I know if my dog has Gingivitis?
If your dog's gums are reddened or swollen at the gum line, or if his teeth have tartar near the gum line, he probably has gingivitis. This is especially true if he is over the age of three and you do not brush his teeth, or if he only eats soft food, if he has crowded teeth, or if he has certain metabolic diseases such as diabetes. Other signs of gingivitis are bad breath or gums that bleed easily. Your veterinarian may be able to make a diagnosis based on appearance. A more thorough exam can be done with your pet under anesthesia.
What can I do about Gingivitis?
Your veterinarian will probably advise a professional tooth cleaning under anesthesia. This allows the entire mouth to be examined and treated, including areas under the gums. The teeth will be polished to remove small grooves that provide a foothold for plaque.
Is there anything I can do to prevent my dog from getting Gingivitis?
Your veterinarian may prescribe hard food that is formulated to scrape the teeth more efficiently than typical hard foods. Special rawhide chews with cleansing action are also available, but may not be appropriate for all dogs. The best thing you can do is brush your pet's teeth daily or at least a couple of times a week using special toothpaste formulated for animals. Human toothpaste is not a goodsafe choice. because it is made to be spit out, which dogs don't do effectively.
Are there certain breeds that get Gingivitis more often?
Toy dogs and dogs with crowded teeth get gingivitis at an earlier age.