Teeth naturally accumulate plaque and tartar on their surfaces. This creates pockets between the gums and the teeth where harmful bacteria thrive. This bacterial infection is called periodontal disease (gum disease). It can lead to local problems like painful teeth and gums, tooth loss, and jawbone degeneration.
Periodontal disease can also lead to system-wide problems. Bacteria from the mouth can get into the lungs, leading to respiratory infections. Bacteria can also enter the bloodstream, travel throughout the body, and lead to generalized inflammation. As bacteria travels through the bloodstream, it can damage internal organs, leading to heart, kidney, and liver problems that can eventually shorten your pet’s lifespan.