The BioFilm Invasion
The number one problem companion animals experience in their mouths is periodontal disease. This is a progressive disease and once diagnosed the goal is to control it while preserving the teeth with which they eat. The usual presentation is a pet with halitosis. When the mouth is examined typically there is significant plaque and calculus (tartar) on the crowns. This is now referred to as a biofilm.
The problem is not what the owner can see rather what cannot be seen. When the biofilm invades under the gums and between tooth roots significant disease results. The goal is to prevent this from happening in the first place. Rather than wait for disease to occur:
- Regular dental prophylaxis (teeth cleaning) under anesthesia will help prevent and control this disease.
- Intraoral x-rays (dental x-ray films) will reveal the hidden disease and status of tooth roots.
Treatment includes removing all the biofilm above and below the gums and between tooth roots. Products are available to help the areas heal and when properly performed compromised teeth can be saved.
Occasionally pets have an abnormally severe response to the biofilm and have severely inflamed oral cavities with what appears to be minimal biofilm. This condition results from a hypersensitivity to the biofilm and tends to be self perpetuating. Pets will have severe ulcers and areas of intense inflammation thorough out their mouths. These pets are in pain and sometimes will face paw and have excessive drooling. Attempting to look in the mouth requires special skills to avoid penetrating teeth into one's hand.
Treatment is designed to eliminate the causes and control the inflammation. Occasionally removing most or all of the pets teeth is the only option for long term survival and quality of life. Medical management is usually a short term, palliative relief when surgical management is being planned. Most all of these pets can be helped and can have quality of life.