How Your Pet’s Dental Health Impacts the Entire Body

When it comes to our pet’s dental health, most conversations happen at the veterinarian’s office and focus on age, genetics, and diet. While these factors are all critical components of dental health, we believe pet owners should have a deeper understanding of how the condition of your dog’s or cat’s mouth directly impacts the entire body and longevity of our pets. 

The Basics of Dental Health in Pets

Periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition occurring in adult dogs and cats. It begins with gingivitis, characterized by inflammation of the gums, which is reversible with proper care. Without intervention, it progresses to periodontal disease, an irreversible condition causing severe damage to the tissues surrounding the teeth. This condition is not only painful but can also lead to tooth loss and infection.

Bella, a team member at Meriden Animal Hospital added that “unaddressed dental disease can lead to tooth root abscesses which can be painful and dangerous for your pet.”

The Vital Link Between Oral Health and Overall Wellness in Pets

The implications of neglected dental health in pets extend far beyond “bad breath” and “gross teeth.” The state of your pet’s oral health is intricately connected to their overall systemic health and can act as a catalyst for a wide range of serious health issues like liver, heart, and kidney diseases. “Dental health doesn’t just affect their teeth,” notes Casey, another MAH team member. “It affects their overall health and longevity of life.” 

How Oral Disease Spreads

When a pet suffers from persistent dental disease, the inflammatory process and bacterial proliferation don’t remain confined to the oral cavity. The bacteria breach into the bloodstream, setting off a domino effect of systemic stress and potential organ damage. This dissemination of pathogens through the circulatory system serves as a conduit for bacteria to anchor onto critical organs. 

According to Dr. Amy Anderson, DVM, “The bacteria coming from dental disease lodges into the heart valves and in the kidneys, which can cause even more problems in the body.”

This bacterial colonization not only disrupts the normal functioning of these organs but also heightens the risk of severe conditions. The far-reaching consequences of oral disease underscore the interconnectivity of bodily systems and the paramount importance of maintaining oral health to safeguard the overall wellness of our pets.

Effects of Dental Health on Vital Organs

Periodontal disease, a prevalent condition arising from neglected dental hygiene, sets off a cascade of adverse effects beyond the oral cavity. It initiates an inflammatory response that can compromise the structural integrity of the gingiva, alveolar bone, and surrounding tissues, ultimately breaching the bloodstream. This bacterial invasion paves the way for pathogens to reach vital organs, including the heart, where they can contribute to conditions such as endocarditis, dilated cardiomyopathy, and valvular cardiac disease

When bacteria infiltrate the kidneys, they harm the glomerulus membranes, compromising functionality. Similarly, these bacteria can induce functional alterations in the liver. Chronic dental disease can also overwhelm the pet’s immune system, making it harder for them to fight off other infections and diseases, leading to an overall decline in health.

Effects of Dental Health on Gut Health

Under normal, stable conditions, bacteria in the mouth act as a protective barrier for your pet’s overall health. However, when that bacteria changes due to age, diet, and oral health, it can disrupt the balance of the oral flora. This disruption can lead to a shift in the bacterial composition, transforming otherwise benign bacteria into opportunistic pathogens. Such shifts can pave the way for infections that not only affect the oral cavity but can also impact the dog’s gut health, as the bacteria from the mouth can easily enter the digestive system.

Side Note:  Many pet owners have been told that kibble has the abrasiveness to help scrape tartar off their pet’s teeth. That’s not true. When has your dentist ever told you to eat something crunchy to help remove your tartar and plaque? That’s why dentists and veterinarians recommend a dental cleaning and continuing to brush/floss your teeth and yes, even changing your diet!

Preventing Oral Disease in Our Pets

We should help prevent dental disease by:

  • Offering raw bones
  • Brushing the teeth
  • Annual vet checkups
  • Offering the appropriate diet
  • Professional dental cleanings
  • Proper supplements


Dental health should be a critical component of your pet’s comprehensive health regimen to improve their overall vitality and quality of life. Ignoring dental maintenance can set off a cascade of detrimental health effects, extending far beyond mere oral discomfort to systemic issues that compromise the functioning of major organs and your pet’s general well-being. 

The bacteria from dental diseases, if unchecked, can infiltrate the bloodstream, potentially impacting the heart, liver, kidneys, and digestive system. That’s why we strongly recommend adding regular dental check-ups, cleanings, and at-home oral hygiene practices into your pet care routine. It’s not just about preventing bad breath or dental decay. Good oral hygiene is about embracing a holistic approach to health care that safeguards every facet of your pet’s life, ensuring they remain active, comfortable, and by our sides for as many years as possible.

Five Ways Dental Disease Can Affect Your Dog’s Health. Medivet Group website. Accessed January 18, 2024

Catherine Barnette, DVM. Dental Disease and Its Relation to Systemic Disease in Pets. VCA Hospitals website.,infection%20in%20the%20surrounding%20area.,to%20each%20of%20these%20organs