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Dental calculus (tartar) is composed of various mineral salts, organic material and food particles. In the early stages, this accumulation of tartar is soft (plaque) but later hardens and adheres to the teeth. Continual accumulation of tartar causes inflammation of the gums, eventual recession of the gums and tooth loss, otherwise known as periodontal disease. Foul breath is usually one of the first symptoms noticed. This “periodontal disease” may lead to diarrhea, vomiting, pain, irritability and a host of other ailments.

Left untreated, tooth and gum disease will allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream and ultimately cause damage to the heart, liver and kidneys. If damage occurs to these major organs, your pet’s lifespan could be shortened.

Prevention

Annual dental check-ups with your veterinarian are a way to determine when to schedule a professional dental cleaning. Brushing your pet’s teeth often using veterinary approved pet toothpaste is a way to slow down the progression of dental tartar.

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Every dental cleaning includes a dental exam, teeth scaling to remove tartar above and below the gum line, polishing the teeth to “smooth down” the surface and build a resistance to future plaque formation, and an antiseptic flushing to remove cleaning debris and bacteria.

Professional dental cleaning is an out-patient procedure that requires anesthesia. Depending on the age or health conditions of your pet, pre-anesthetic blood work may be required.