Definition of Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease refers to inflammation of the structures that surround and support the teeth, including the gums and dental bones. It is extremely common in companion dogs, irrespective of gender or breed, although small breeds are predisposed. Without proper nutrition and good dental hygiene, bacteria that normally live in moderate numbers inside a dog’s mouth become disrupted and can reproduce without regulation. They aggregate between the teeth and gums, creating inflammation, irritation and bleeding. Bacteria adhere to teeth with bits of food and other material to form plaque, which thickens, hardens and becomes an abrasive substance called calculus or tartar. Painful bloody pockets develop in the gums, trapping food particles and harboring even more bacteria. In advanced cases, the dog’s teeth loosen and may even fall out, which makes eating difficult. Fortunately, most cases of periodontal disease in dogs are preventable with routine dental care.