Periodontal Disease in Dogs

Your dog’s teeth, gums, and all the associated structures are collectively referred to as their periodontium. When these structures become infected and inflamed, your dog is suffering from periodontal disease. Periodontal disease can slowly rob your dog of some or all of their teeth; it can also cause abscesses that drain into the mouth or along the jawline.

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease (also known as gum disease) is a serious infection that affects the gums and bone surrounding your dog’s teeth. It can lead to tooth loss and more serious infections. While periodontal disease in dogs is common, it’s also preventable with regular dental care.

Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria in plaque, which builds up on your dog’s teeth, gums, and tongue. These bacteria cause inflammation of the gums that leads to swelling and redness around your dog’s mouth. As this inflammation continues over time, it can lead to tooth loss if left untreated—and even further down the road could affect other areas of your pet’s body if not caught early enough (e.g., kidney failure).

What are the signs of periodontal disease in dogs?

As you can see, your dog’s teeth are full of infections and inflammation. It’s important to act quickly to prevent further damage.

If you notice:

  • Your pet’s gums are swollen and red, especially around the base of their teeth
  • Your dog’s breath smells bad
  • Your pet has brown or black spots on their teeth (which may indicate tartar buildup)
  • Their teeth have deep pockets between their gum line and tooth surface, which makes them susceptible to infection
  • Their mouth feels hot to the touch (a sign of inflammation)

How do veterinary dentists diagnose periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is a serious issue in dogs, but there are ways to prevent it. To help your dog avoid periodontal disease, consult with a veterinarian about the best dental care plan for you and your pet.

  • Veterinary dentists usually diagnose periodontal disease by examining the teeth and gums visually and looking for signs of inflammation or bleeding around the gum line. If this doesn’t appear to be an issue, they may take tissue biopsies from around each tooth’s root to confirm whether or not there’s an infection present. The vet may also recommend x-rays or dental radiographs as part of their evaluation process; these tests give vets a clearer view than what they would get from visual inspection alone.

How do veterinarians treat dogs with periodontal disease?

If your dog has a periodontal disease, your veterinarian will recommend a treatment plan. This may include:

  • Dental cleaning and teeth scaling to remove tartar and plaque buildup on the teeth
  • Filling cavities with dental materials like amalgam (silver-colored) or composite resin (white/plastic-looking)
  • Root canal treatment if the tooth is damaged or infected and needs to be removed
  • Extraction of painful, diseased or infected teeth depending on their severity

The more advanced stages of this disease require more advanced procedures such as:

  • Periodontal surgery which involves removing inflamed gum tissue around the tooth roots in order to prevent further damage


  • Implant surgery which involves placing artificial roots into extracted sockets where teeth once were

How can we prevent periodontal disease in our dogs?

  • Regular brushing, especially with a soft brush or toothbrush designed for dogs.
  • Regular dental checkups. Your vet can show you how to properly clean your dog’s teeth and gums at home if you don’t have the time or money for regular professional cleanings.
  • A healthy diet with lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, as well as lean protein and fiber (treats are fine in moderation). Avoid sugary treats and sticky chew toys that may trap plaque between teeth. If your dog has any signs of periodontal disease, avoid cooked bones — they are too hard on the teeth!

Taking good care of your dog’s teeth can help them live a longer, happier life.

Taking good care of your dog’s teeth is an important part of overall health and wellness. It’s also a huge factor when it comes to quality of life for both you and your canine companion. Dental care is especially important for long-term health, which leads us to our final point: the longevity of your dog’s teeth.

If you don’t take proper care of their pearly whites, they could lose their natural white color and become discolored—or worse, they may even start falling out altogether! The best way to avoid this scenario is by regularly brushing your pet’s teeth with toothpaste designed specifically for dogs (and cats).

If you notice your dog’s breath smelling bad, they’re drooling excessively, or bleeding when they brush their tongue against a tooth, take them to the vet right away!