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The Stink Starts at the Pink

By Rodger Barr DVM

Strange title? Not really, it refers to the source of mouth odor beginning with the first stage of oral disease gingivitis. Gingivitis refers to the pinkish red inflammation around the teeth often caused by the presence of plaque and bacteria. If allowed to persist, Stage 1 gingivitis will progress to Stage 4 Severe Periodontitis. Periodontitis refers to extensive infection and deterioration of the oral tissue often resulting in unbelievable mouth odor and ultimately tooth lose, not to mention potential heart, kidney and or liver disease. Periodontal disease is the most common disease among dogs. It affects more than 9 out of 10 greyhounds over the age of 3 years old.

Nothing takes the place of daily effective tooth brushing, but as so often is the case, when a problem is complex and difficult to manage, new weapons are always being developed to fight the battle, with the goal being ultimate eradication of oral disease. Until the condition is totally managed, new ways of combating the problem are always being developed. You may currently be using daily brushing in addition to weekly Oravet in combination with Breathalyzer in the water. All of these methods have value, but they do not, by themselves, permanently resolve dental disease. The newest weapon available is Pfizer’s new Porphyromonas Bacterin. This is a two shot series vaccine followed by yearly boosters designed to combat the three most common oral bacteria responsible for periodontitis.

The ideal use of the vaccine is to start with a clean mouth, although if you dog is unable to have an appropriate dental under anesthesia it still does have value. This vaccine does not allow us to reduce frequency of brushing; it is merely another option to add to the arsenal in our total dental care package. Side effects can be similar to any vaccine, soreness at the vaccination site, listlessness, swollen face, reduced appetite, etc. It remains to be seen how useful this vaccine will be, but it appears to have the potential to represent a major contributor to improved oral health.