Periodontal disease, also called periodontitis, is a bacterial infection of the gum tissue and the structures that support the teeth. It's well-known that people can develop this infection, but other animals can get it, too, including your pet hedgehog. Here are four things hedgehog owners need to know about periodontal disease.
Why do hedgehogs get periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is common among hedgehogs. Hedgehogs get periodontal disease for the same reasons that other animals do. Plaque, a sticky film, builds up on their teeth, and since plaque is full of bacteria, it irritates their gum tissue. These bacteria can infect the gum tissue and spread to tooth-supporting structures as well.
What are the signs of periodontal disease?
If your pet has periodontal disease, you'll notice that their gums bleed excessively. Activities like chewing hard kibble may cause this bleeding. If you examine your pet's teeth, you may also notice that the roots of their teeth are visible due to the recession of the gum tissue. Another sign of periodontal disease is brown or black discoloration on the teeth.
How can you prevent it?
To keep your hedgehog's gums healthy, you need to make sure plaque isn't able to accumulate on their teeth and along their gum line. If your hedgehog is very calm and doesn't roll up into a ball when you perform other routine grooming tasks, you can attempt to brush their teeth with a cotton swab. There's no need to use toothpaste.
Not all hedgehogs will cooperate with tooth brushing, but fortunately, there are other things you can do to maintain your pet's oral health. Feeding them abrasive items like hard kibble can help to remove plaque from their teeth.
How do vets treat periodontal disease?
One way that vets can treat periodontal disease is with dental prophylaxis. Dental prophylaxis is the medical term for scraping plaque and calculus from the teeth. Your hedgehog will need to be anesthetized for this procedure, otherwise, they'll roll up into a ball and prevent the vet from cleaning their teeth.
If cleaning isn't enough, the vet may prescribe antibiotics. The antibiotics work by destroying the bacteria responsible for the infection. In severe cases, this won't be enough, and your pet's teeth will need to be extracted. Toothless hedgehogs can still live a happy life; you'll just need to feed them a soft foods diet.
For more information, contact Foothills Animal Hospital or a similar location.