Definition of Gingivitis
Gingivitis refers to inflammation of the gums and is extremely common in dogs. Without a proper diet and good dental care, food particles accumulate in the crevices between a dog’s teeth and gums, and the normal bacterial population in its mouth starts to proliferate. Bacteria stick to the smooth tooth surfaces forming plaque, which thickens, mineralizes, hardens and roughens into calculus, also known as tartar. This pushes the gums away from the teeth, causing pockets that provide a perfect platform for more bacterial overgrowth. Calculus usually aggregates on the cheek-sides of a dog’s upper molars and premolars. The infected gums become irritated, inflamed and infected; they usually bleed and are extremely painful. Untreated gingivitis progresses to periodontitis and can lead to life-threatening spread of bacteria throughout a dog’s bloodstream. Many owners don’t realize that they need to care for their dog’s teeth. Fortunately, gingivitis is almost always preventable or reversible by regular tooth-brushing at home and occasional dental cleanings at a veterinary clinic.