• Periodontal disease is a serious, progressive dental condition in dogs and cats; it can result in tooth loss and other complications.
  • Periodontal disease occurs when gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and periodontitis (inflammation of and damage to tooth-support structures) develop.
  • Porphyromonas is a family of bacteria that have been implicated in the development and progression of periodontal disease in dogs.

What Is Periodontal Disease?

When a dog’s teeth are not properly cleaned or cared for on a regular basis, plaque and tarter can build up on the tooth surface and underneath the gumline. This material can irritate the gums, causing inflammation known as gingivitis. If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to the development of periodontitis, which is the infection and inflammation of structures that support the teeth. Periodontal disease tends to include both gingivitis and periodontitis.

Periodontal disease damages the ligaments and other tissues that hold each tooth in its bony socket. It is a progressive and ongoing disease that, if not treated, can lead to pain, abscesses (pus-filled swellings), and tooth loss. Periodontal disease has also been linked to illness affecting the heart and kidneys.

Signs of Periodontal Disease

Clinical signs of periodontal disease include:

  • Bad breath
  • Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
  • Gum recession (pulling away from the crown of the tooth)
  • Pain while chewing
  • Drooling
  • Discolored teeth
  • Broken teeth
  • Tooth loss

Periodontal disease is a common problem in pets. According to the American Animal Hospital Association, periodontal disease affects 85% of dogs older than 3 years. Dental problems are painful, but you’ll want to catch dental problems before your pet has pain or discomfort. Being on the lookout for clinical signs of periodontal disease is helpful, but preventive care is the best way to keep your pet’s teeth healthy.

What Is Porphyromonas?

Porphyromonas is a family of bacteria that have been implicated in the development and progression of periodontitis in dogs. The bacteria subtypes are Porphyromonas gulae, Porphyromonas salivosa, and Porphyromonas denticani. These bacteria have been implicated in most cases of dogs with periodontal disease.


The best way to prevent periodontal disease is to follow your veterinarian’s recommendation for regular dental examinations and cleanings. As pets age, or if your dog is particularly prone to dental problems (some breeds are), examinations and cleanings may be recommended more frequently.

A routine visual dental examination can be performed during a wellness visit. However, a full dental evaluation requires sedation or anesthesia. During a thorough examination, your pet’s mouth and teeth are carefully examined. Dental instruments are used to detect gaps or pockets around the teeth. Full mouth x-rays may be recommended, as many dental problems can lie hidden below the surface of the gums.

Your veterinarian may recommend a teeth cleaning, which includes using dental instruments to clean the teeth and the area below the gumline. Broken, damaged, or loose teeth can sometimes be restored, but in some cases, your veterinarian may recommend removal.

To be most effective, dental examinations and cleanings should be paired with a regular home toothbrushing program.