Gum (Periodontal) disease is one of the most common problems seen by veterinarians today. In fact, more than 85% of dogs and cats over 4 years of age suffer from periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is also known as the "Silent Disease" because of its slow progressive nature. In addition to bad breath, gum disease can lead to loss of appetite, weight loss, serious generalized infections, and heart and kidney disease.
In the earlier stages of this disease, plaque is allowed to accumulate on the teeth and gums. The plaque harbors the bacteria that irritate the gums, which become tender, red, and swollen. Eventually, the inflamed gums pull away form the teeth, creating pockets that trap more bacteria. The pockets deepen and bacteria begin to destroy the roots of the teeth. Once the gums reach this stage of deterioration, they bleed slightly every time the pet eats or chews. This bleeding unfortunately allows bacteria to enter into the bloodstream. Once bacteria enters the bloodstream, it can travel to other organs and set-up infections there.
If your pet permits you , examine your pet's mouth for any of the following signs:
- Persistent foul mouth odor
- Red, swollen, or tender gum line
- Plaque formation
- Tartar formation (hard material on the tooth surface)
- Bleeding, receded, or eroded gums
- Loose teeth
- Infected teeth (puss between teeth and gums)
- Missing teeth