As humans, we brush and floss our teeth after meals and go to the dentist to have our teeth cleaned twice per year. The importance of oral hygiene is drilled into us starting at a young age and we learn to fear words such as “plaque” or “gingivitis”. However, beyond getting a face full of “doggy breath”, oral care for our pets can often slip our minds. When tartar builds up on our pets’ teeth, their gums may become inflamed, causing soreness and eventual tooth loss. If left untreated, bacteria will build up, affecting the tissue and bones in your pets mouth. This is called periodontal disease, or disease of the gums, and is similar to a human getting gingivitis. Toothpaste made specially for dogs or cats, dental treats, and food made to help dental health in pets are options for routine oral care when implemented at a young age. However, by the time your pet is diagnosed with periodontal disease, brushing or dental treats will not be enough, and your pet will need to have a dental cleaning. Dental cleaning in pets is performed under general anesthesia so that the veterinarian can scrape off the tartar, clean under the gums, and polish the teeth. After your pets’ dental cleaning, toothpastes and dental treats can be used to maintain a healthy mouth and keep breath fresh. If you are concerned about your pet’s oral hygiene or want to learn more, visit your veterinarian.