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Periodontal Disease/Signs & Symptoms

           Periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition affecting our canine patients, with dogs showing signs and symptoms by the age of three. Unfortunately, other than bad breath, there are few signs of the disease evident to the owner.

Bad Breath

Plaque and cavities cause a buildup of bacteria that often leads to an offensive odor that comes from the mouth, producing bad breath. 

Discolored Teeth

Teeth which are purple, yellow, grey, or brown are very likely to be a significant problem for your dog. 


Normal, healthy salvation helps your dog eat and digest but excessive drool can be the result of tarter buildup rubbing against the inside of your dog’s lip.

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Bleeding can occur if the soft tissues in an animal's mouth, such as the gums and tongue, become irritated and inflamed.

Loss of Appetite

Chewing may be painful in the case of fractures and loose or infected teeth, often leading to changes in eating habits. 

Aversion to Touch

Most dogs with painful dental conditions do not show clinical signs that are obvious to the owner, but this does not mean that they are not feeling pain. Your dog may try to avoid being touched at or around the mouth. 

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Please watch the video below to learn more from Brook Niemiec, DVM, DAVDC who is a board certified veterinary dentist.

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. The real problem develops as plaque and calculus spread under the gum line. Bacteria in this “sub-gingival” plaque set in motion a cycle of damage to the supporting tissues around the tooth, eventually leading to loss of the tooth.

Periodontal disease includes gingivitis (inflammation or redness 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 be carried throughout the body. Studies in dogs have shown that periodontal disease is associated with microscopic changes in the heart, liver, and kidneys.


(Excerpted from the website of the American Veterinary Dental College,

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