Just like humans, dogs require basic dental hygiene to avoid decay and other oral problems. Unfortunately, very few dog owners actually take the time to brush their dogs' teeth or bring their dogs in for dental cleanings. Maybe that's why by age two, an estimated 80% of dogs have some form of periodontal disease. For those who are unfamiliar, periodontal disease is a progressed form of gum disease that can ultimately result in the permanent loss of teeth for your dog, along with other ailments.

Signs of Periodontal Disease

If you don't take steps to protect your dog's oral health, there's a good chance he or she already has periodontal disease. Specifically, you'll want to be on the lookout for these symptoms:

  • bleeding or extremely red, irritated gums
  • bad breath
  • unusual fatigue or weakness
  • strange bumps inside the mouth

Treatment for Periodontal Disease

There are different stages of periodontal disease, including early, moderate, and severe. No form of periodontal disease is curable, unfortunately. Once the damage has been done to your dog's teeth and gums, it's not possible to reverse it. However, early to moderate stages of periodontal disease can usually be treated and prevented from progressing any further. Typically, the treatment involves putting the dog under anesthesia and performing a deep cleaning on the teeth and gums themselves. From there, the dog may be required to come in regularly for follow-up appointments and dental cleanings.

Unfortunately, progressed stages of periodontal disease will usually lead to a dog losing some or all of its teeth over time. While deep cleaning may help alleviate bleeding gums or other discomfort in the meantime, it's not likely to stop the spread of the problem in the long-term.

What to Do Next

The next time your dog is at the vet, make sure your veterinarian checks your dog's teeth and gums for signs of periodontal disease. He or she may recommend bringing your dog in for a dental cleaning if early signs are spotted as a preventative measure. Even if your dog doesn't have periodontal disease now, there are steps you should be taking to prevent it from being an issue in the future.

For starters, take the time to brush your dog's teeth and gums often. If your dog is uncomfortable with this, consider purchasing treats or toys that are meant to clean the teeth as your dog enjoys them. There are also additives you can put in your dog's water bowl to help maintain healthier teeth and gums. Click here to learn more about dog dental cleaning.