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Interesting Dental Facts and Information
Periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition occurring in adult dogs and cats, and is entirely preventable. Unfortunately, other than bad breath, there are few signs of disease process.
Periodontal disease begins when bacteria in the mouth form a substance called plaque that sticks to the surface of the teeth. Subsequently, minerals in the saliva harden the plaque into dental calculus (tartar), which is firmly attached to the teeth. Tartar is what we see when we look in a pets mouth, but is not itself the cause of dental disease.
The real problem develops as plaque and calculus spread under the gums. Bacterial in this hidden space under the gums set in motion a cycle of damage to the supporting tissues around the tooth, eventually leading to loss of the tooth. Bacteria under the gum line secrete toxins, which contribute to the tissue damage if left untreated.
Periodontal disease includes gingivitis (inflammation [reddening] of the gums) and periodontitis (loss of bone and soft tissue around the teeth). There is a wide range in the appearance and severity of periodontal disease, which often cannot be properly evaluated or treated without general anesthesia for veterinary patients.
Bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream and are carried around the body. Studies in dogs have shown that periodontal disease is associated with microscopic changes in the heart, liver, and kidneys.