A dental checkup isn’t just about maintaining your pet’s pearly whites and making his breath smell good. It also keeps your pet healthy and prevents disease. Read on to learn why you should schedule regular dental appointments for your dog or cat. 1 Detect Dental Issues and Early Signs of Disease During a dental exam, your veterinarian will look for swollen gums and broken teeth, check your pet’s tonsils, tongue, and lips, and feel your pet’s jaw and lymph nodes. She’ll also determine if your pet needs teeth cleaning to remove buildup, and she may take X-rays or order bloodwork. This in-depth assessment allows your vet to spot and treat early signs of disease that may otherwise go undetected. 2 Prevents Periodontal Disease Nearly three-quarters of dogs and cats over the age of 3 suffer from periodontal disease, which can lead to tooth loss, infection, heart disease, and kidney damage. But the good news is that periodontal disease is preventable. Regular dental checkups, professional cleaning, and year-round dental maintenance at home are a must to keep disease at bay. 3 Learn How to Maintain Good Dental Care Between Appointments A yearly dental appointment isn’t a one-and-done situation. While the oral exam and deep cleaning your pet gets from a veterinarian is incredibly important, it’s just as important to maintain good dental habits between visits. Your pet’s dental appointment is a great opportunity to chat with your vet about what products to use, learn about proper brushing technique, and get recommendations for dental chews. Most experts recommend yearly dental checkups, but your veterinarian may recommend more frequent appointments for pets with severe periodontal disease. With regular checkups and good dental habits throughout the year, you can help ensure your pet’s teeth and gums stay healthy — and ultimately help him live a longer and happier life.