Periodontal Therapy

Plaque Control

The basis of all periodontal therapy is plaque removal/control. Plaque control in pets is very similar to human treatment. No matter how prone your pet is to periodontal disease, if there is no plaque, there is no infection.

Therapeutic Approach

The cornerstone of periodontal therapy is a very thorough dental prophylaxis. This may also be called a “Dental Cleaning” or “COHAT.” Treatment is like going to your own dentist and receiving a cleaning.

The steps involved should include:

  1. Pre-surgical examination and pre-operative blood tests.
  2. Balanced anesthesia (our boarded anesthesiologist creates our protocols)
  3. Cleaning above—and most importantly—below  the gumline
  4. Polishing the teeth
  5. A complete oral examination and charting
  6. Dental radiographs to fully diagnose the level of infection.

Note that this (and all professional therapy) MUST be performed under general anesthesia. Anesthesia-free dentistry is entirely ineffective. Read more about VDS’s stance.

Oral care at home

Homecare is a critical aspect of periodontal therapy as it has been shown that plaque forms overnight and that infection returns very quickly. In fact, in humans,  professional care without homecare was considered worthless

Tooth brushing is the best (and most affordable) way to control plaque at home. All it takes is a toothbrush and toothpaste (and a willing patient). See our videos below.

Homecare can also be accomplished via chews, treats, diets, and potentially water additives. However, be careful as many commercial products have minimal to no effectiveness. For a list of products recommended by our veterinary dentists, please get in touch with us at

Advanced Care

Once the pockets/bone loss becomes significant, more advanced therapies will be necessary to remove the infection from your pet’s mouth. We at VDS are experts in periodontal surgery (and guided tissue regeneration). Dr. Niemiec wrote the book on periodontal disease in veterinary patients.

If a tooth can be saved, we at VDS have the experience and technology to do it.

However, severely diseased teeth are best treated with extraction. While extreme, it is the true cure of periodontal disease, and it permanently relieves your pet of infection.

Supporting Resources

Washington Post
See VDS's own Chief of Staff, Brook A. Niemiec featured in the Washington Post
How to Brush Your Teeth Tutorials
Dr. Brook Niemiec shows us how to brush your dog's teeth.