More than just bad breath, poor oral health can lead to more serious disease as well. Contrary to popular belief a dogs mouth is far from sterile and a cats mouth is frequently much worse (thats why dog and cat bites are treated with antibiotics). As our pets’ teeth become covered with plaque and tarter the oral environment deteriorates to a bacterial breeding ground. The onset of gingivitis (red and swollen gums) allows bacteria wider access to the body through the inflamed and susceptible tissue. These bacteria can travel throughout the body in the bloodstream and lead to bacterial colonies forming in the liver, kidneys, heart or lungs. If this should occur, your pet’s health is put in jeopardy. The best way to prevent this unfortunate problem is to maintain a clean and hygienic oral environment. At home preventative measures include daily brushing, dental treats, chews or diets. Eventually, despite your best efforts, most pets will need to have a professional cleaning where the build up of plaque and tarter is removed and the teeth are polished and returned to their previous clean and healthy state. These cleanings usually need to be performed annually to maintain good oral health in most pets. As you take preventative measures to protect against dental disease you will make your pet more enjoyable to be around and improve his or her quality of life.