Dentistry - Periodontal

Periodontal disease is defined as disease of the structures surrounding and supporting the tooth ie. the gum, the bone of the jaw, and the ligament holding the tooth in the bone. There are two types of periodontal disease: gingivitis and periodontitis.

Gingivitis -
Earliest stage of periodontal disease and is reversible with treatment.
(Inflammation of the gums)

Clinical features
  • Redness
  • Swelling of the gum
  • Discharge of pus
  • Gums bleed easily

Periodontitis -
Inflammation of the gums and surrounding tissue with irreversible loss of bone and connecting ligament.

Clinical features
  • All of the signs of gingivitis, as well as:
  • Bad breath
  • Possibly visible pain on eating
  • Looseness of teeth
  • Retraction of gums
Untreated periodontal disease causes any or all of the following:
  • Pain
  • Tooth loss
  • Bacteria in the blood stream
  • Abscess formation
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Difficulty in chewing
  • Bone loss with subsequent fracture of the jaw

Untreated periodontal disease is a major cause of a serious reduction of the quality of life, particularly of older cats, and frequently causes premature death through secondary effects such as kidney failure.


Periodontitis is caused by bacteria living in the mouth. They form plaque, which eventually hardens to become tartar (calculus) and invade the gums and surrounding tissue. Every time a cat with periodontal disease chews on food, some of these bacteria are injected into the bloodstream: from there they end in the kidneys.


Our main aim should be prevention through good oral hygiene, such as regular chewing. However where the disease already exists it is necessary to:

  • Scale the teeth to remove tartar and plaque
  • Perform root planing to remove tartar below the gums
  • Polish the teeth (a smooth surface reduces new plaque formation)
  • Depending on the severity, it may also be necessary to extract teeth that are impossible to save


  • No matter how well cleaned the mouth is, it must be maintained with proper home care.
  • The mainstay of reducing plaque build up is dietary therapy. The best diets for this is Hills T/D, Hills Science Diet Oral Care and Royal Canin Dental SO. Natural foods such as raw chicken wings and necks and strips of tough chewy meat can also be effective. Plaque-reducing foods need to be 50% or more of the diet to be effective.
  • Hexarinse is a mouthwash that is very effective in reducing the number of bacteria in the mouth which can be an effective way of reducing plaque build up and gingivitis. It is administered into the mouth daily. Most cats don't mind the flavour.
  • Aquadent can also be added to drinking water to improve oral hygiene.

We will closely check the teeth each time we see a cat, as cats that have had dental problems are at risk of further problems during their life.


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