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Chances are you have heard the team 'doggy breath' - and know how it smells. Bad breath is one of the first signs of dental disease in pets. And dental disease is a serious issue.

Dental disease can cause pets severe pain. It also poses the risk for oral bacteria to travel into the body through the bloodstream. Thankfully, dental disease is completely preventable. Regular dental cleanings can keep the tartar, bacteria, and plaque associated with these ailments at bay to protect the integrity of your pet's teeth, gums, and overall health.

The preventative process begins with a dental assessment, which can be completed during an annual wellness visit. The veterinarian will inspect the teeth and gums, and possibly take an x-ray of the jaw to determine the extent of decay. If one or several teeth are determined to be so severely affected that they warrant an extraction, the doctor will manage the associated pain as necessary.

After the dental assessment, the veterinarian will recommend for the majority of pets that they receive a professional dental cleaning. During the dental cleaning, we must use anesthesia to provide a complete service. This is because the dental disease affects the area underneath the gum line, which can only be treated with the patient unconscious. The procedure will also involve using an ultrasonic scaler, which is a completely safe but very noisy piece of equipment which frightens many patients when placed in or near the mouth.

In addition to annual dental cleanings, dental care can also be practiced in between visits in the home. Some owners brush their pet's teeth, but there are many varieties of dental toys and treats available that can slow the buildup of plaque and tartar.