Periodontal disease is a very common problem in both cats and dogs. This disease begins with gingivitis (inflammation and infection of the gingiva) and progresses into periodontitis (infection and inflammation of the alveolar bone, cementum, and the periodontal ligament). The process of periodontal disease formation in animals begins the same way it does in humans, with plaque, tartar and bacterial accumulation under the gum line. Dogs and cats do not brush or floss their teeth, so the food they eat accumulates around the tooth, providing a breeding ground for bacteria. Dental plaque forms on the surface of the teeth which combine with the calcium in saliva to create a hard mineral known as calculus (tartar). This calculus forces itself between the tooth and the gingiva, further damaging the gum line and introducing more bacteria to the periodontal region. The chronic inflammation and infection of periodontal disease results in oral pain, bone infection, bone loss, periodontal ligament destruction and ultimately tooth loss. The bacterial infection involved in periodontal disease can enter the blood stream and cause damage to the kidneys, liver, and heart. One of the most common signs of periodontal disease is bad breath. Other signs include: dark discolored coating on the teeth, bright red or bleeding gums, loose teeth, oral pain, facial abscesses, and in severe cases a decreased appetite.