Periodontal comes from the Greek peri-, meaning around, and odous, meaning tooth.
Dog and cat teeth all have the same basic structure. The crown, which is covered with enamel, is above the gum line, or gingiva.
Underneath the enamel of the crown is the dentin, which extends below the gum line to form the tooth’s root. The inner portion of the dentin is the pulp chamber, or root canal. It contains the blood and nerve supply for the tooth.
Below the gum line, the dentin is covered by a thin layer of cementum, which is attached to the tooth socket by dense connective tissue known as periodontal ligaments. The gingiva, part of the mucous membrane of the mouth, attaches to underlying alveolar bone, which anchors the tooth in the jaw.
Veterinarians see periodontal disease more often than any other infection in veterinary practice. Between 75% to 80% of dogs aged 2 years and older are affected, and periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in dogs.
Periodontal disease begins as gingivitis, an inflammation of the gingiva, or gums. Gingivitis is reversible if treated promptly. Left unchecked, the condition advances to periodontitis and affects the periodontal ligaments and alveolar bone.