We usually notice that our pet has bad breath. Almost always this is because of diseased teeth and gums in our pets' mouths. The problem with dental disease is that it is life shortening and painful for the pet. The worse it is, the shorter your pet’s life is likely to be and the more chronic pain there is. Animals tend to suffer in silence, which lulls us into thinking that the only real problem is the resultant bad breath. Even this halitosis can be enough to cause us to interact with and enjoy our pets much less than we otherwise might. Since our pets do not complain, they can end up suffering in relative isolation and we do not experience the fulfilling relationship with the pet that we originally wanted. The most devastating dental disease tends to occur in the smaller breeds of dogs. They have less jawbone to support their teeth, they tend not to gnaw and can be generally uncooperative about having their teeth wiped or brushed unless these pups are trained with rewards to cooperate with your efforts from puppyhood. Such training is well worth the effort and is an investment in sparing your pocketbook and in your pet’s long-term health (be they dogs or cats). Encouraging puppies to gnaw on safe chew toys and providing these toys frequently are the other parts of the healthy mouth equation.As with people, removal of soft plaque prior to mineralization of this plaque is the key to reducing the frequency and degree of professional intervention. We believe that nightly wiping/brushing of your dog’s teeth (after all food/treat consumption for the day) is very effective in dogs. We also believe that as little as 30 seconds (total) can be enough. Keep it simple, short and consistent. A little effort regularly is a whole lot more effective than an enormous effort occasionally.Periodontal disease is a preventable disease. If dental disease is allowed to progress, the whole process snowballs and advanced disease of the gums and supporting bone ensues. (Cavities, fortunately, are rare in dogs and cats). As the gums become inflamed and retract, the roots of the teeth become accessible for bacterial colonization and the disease process accelerates, sometimes with irreversible consequences. Before we know it, we have a much older pet with a very seriously diseased and painful mouth (Grade III and IV periodontal disease). Such pets have the most need for care but are at the most risk for complications trying to provide the necessary care. This is the situation that we really need to try to avoid by providing adequate home care coupled with proper professional dental prophylaxis, preferably by the time grade I or at most grade II disease has occurred. If the gums are even beginning to get red and/or swollen, then it is time for professional attention and treatment.