How common is periodontal disease in dogs?

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Experts say periodontal disease is one of the most common problems seen in veterinary practice. It occurs in two forms: The first is gingivitis, a reversible inflammation of the gums. The second is periodontitis, an inflammation of the deeper structures supporting the teeth.
Gingivitis develops when bacteria build up between the teeth and gums, leading to inflammation, and bleeding. The edges of healthy gums fit tightly around the teeth, but in a dog with gingivitis, rough dental calculus builds up in an irregular fashion along the gum line, producing points at which the gum is forced away from the teeth. This creates small pockets that trap food and bacteria. In time, the gums become infected.
Calculus (tartar) also collects on all tooth surfaces, but is found in the greatest amounts on the cheek side of the upper premolars and molars.
This buildup of calculus on the teeth is the primary cause of gum inflammation. Certain breeds, such as Poodles, and smaller dogs seem to form calculus more readily. Dogs who eat dry kibble and chew on bones or dog biscuits have less calculus buildup than dogs who eat only soft, canned foods.
A characteristic sign of gingivitis is bad breath.The gums appear red and swollen, and bleed easily when touched.
The teeth should be professionally cleaned, scaled, and polished to remove all plaque and calculus and followed with a regular regimen of home oral care that includes daily (or several times weekly) brushing. Make sure you use toothbrushes and paste specially developed for canine use; sometimes a piece of clean gauze will also work nicely and allow you to give a nice massage to your dog’s gums.
NOTE: A veterinary exam beforehand may be helpful to find out if your dog’s gums are inflamed. If your dog has mild gingivitis, brushing too hard can hurt her gums.

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