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Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is one of the most common conditions we see in adult dogs and cats. The majority of our pets over 3 years of age are affected by some type of periodontal disease.


If caught early enough, periodontal disease may be reversed and treated. It is also completely preventable.

Unlike humans, dogs and cats do not have the ability to brush bacteria and plaque off their teeth every day. Periodontal disease starts when bacteria in the mouth forms a sticky substance called plaque that adheres to the surface of the teeth. Minerals in your pet’s saliva will cause the plaque to harden into a substance called dental calculus (tartar). Plaque and dental calculus can spread under the gums and start to damage the tissues around the tooth, eventually causing tooth loss and other subsequent problems.

If left untreated, periodontal disease can cause a number of minor to more severe issues within the oral cavity and throughout the body. These include:

  • halitosis (bad breath)
• gingivitis (inflammation/reddening of the gums
  • periodontitis (bone and tissue loss around teeth)
  • oral fistulas (hole forms from mouth into nasal passages)
  • osteomyelitis (bone infection)
• heart, liver, and kidney changes (excess bacteria in the mouth passes into the bloodstream)

There are many different treatment options for periodontal disease. Depending on the severity of the disease, treatment options include a thorough oral examination, dental radiographs, professional dental cleaning (scaling and polishing), extractions, and a variety of oral surgery options. (Please see our Oral Surgery information page.) We will also discuss at-home oral pet care which can help improve dental health and decrease the need/frequency for regular dental cleanings.

It is never too early to start implementing at-home oral care. Please contact you regular veterinarian for more information on starting an at-home oral hygiene routine.

Veterinary Professionals