Dental Hygiene* – Dental exams, routine use of dental chews, specially designed dental-health diets and professional dental scaling/polishing are important for a healthy mouth. If the tartar is not removed, it builds up under the gums. It separates the gums from the teeth to form “pockets” and encourages even more bacterial growth. At this point the damage, called periodontal disease, is irreversible. It can be very painful and can lead to loose teeth, abscesses, and bone loss or infection. As bacterial growth continues to increase, the bacteria may enter the bloodstream. This can cause infection of the heart valves (endocarditis), liver, and kidneys. If treated by your veterinarian with special instruments and procedures, periodontal disease can be slowed or stopped.