Dental disease is so much more than just your Pet having dirty teeth or bad breath!
Dental disease or periodontal disease begins when bacteria in the mouth form plaque that sticks to the surface of the teeth. Subsequently, minerals in the saliva harden the plaque into dental calculus (tartar), which firmly attaches to the teeth. Tartar below the gum line is obvious to many Pet Parents, but is not itself the cause of the disease.
The real problem develops as plaque and calculus spread under the gum line. Bacteria in the sub-gingival plaque set in motion a cycle of damage to the supporting tissue around the tooth, eventually leading to loss of the tooth, if untreated. Bacteria under the gum line secrete toxins, which contribute to the tissue damage, if untreated.
These bacteria also stimulate the animal’s immune system and the initial changes cause white blood cells and inflammatory chemical signals to move into the periodontal space (between the gum or bone and the tooth). The function of the white blood cells is to destroy the bacterial invaders, but chemicals released by the overwhelmed white blood cells cause damage to the supporting tissue of the tooth. Instead of helping the problem, the Pet’s protective system actually worsens the disease when there is severe build-up of plaque and tartar.
Bacteria from the mouth can enter into the bloodstream and travel through the body. Studies in dogs have shown that periodontal disease is associated with changes in the heart, liver and kidney. Luckily, Knobs has a Pet Parent that noted his bad breath and brought him for a dental consult.