Periodontal disease, which includes gingivitis and periodontitis, is an inflammation and/or infection of the gums and bone around your pets teeth. It's caused by bacteria that accumulate in the mouth, forming soft plaque that later hardens into tartar. If untreated, periodontal disease can eventually lead to tooth loss as well as more severe health problems, such as heart, liver and kidney failure. Signs of periodontal disease include bad breath, red or swollen gums, a yellow-brown crust near the gum line, loose or missing teeth, abnormal drooling, dropping food out of the mouth, swallowing food whole, discomfort when mouth or gums are touched and possibly a decreased appetite or weight loss due to difficulty chewing. Regular professional cleaning under general anesthesia, including areas under the gum line will help reduce that bacteria's contribution to periodontis. After a professional dental scaling, giving your pet appropriate dental care chew items, mouth rinses or even a specially formulated pet food for dental disease will help remove plaque between cleanings. Making sure this health issue is quickly addressed can add years onto your pets life.