Keep your pet’s teeth and gums healthy with these essential tools. Up to 80% of dogs and cats show signs of periodontal disease by the age of 3, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). This can lead to a variety of serious health problems, like tooth and bone loss, heart disease, and kidney damage. The good news is that periodontal disease is preventable. With regular dental care, you can help ensure your pet’s teeth and gums stay healthy and prevent oral disease — and ultimately help him live a longer and happier life. Here are four helpful tools for good oral care. 1 Toothbrush You’ll need a soft-bristled toothbrush specially designed for pets. They come in different shapes and lengths, so be sure to pick one that fits your dog or cat’s mouth. You can also try a finger brush, which fits over your finger and can make brushing easier. Stock up on a few toothbrushes, as they should be replaced every few months. 2 Toothpaste Look for toothpaste formulated for dogs and cats — never use one meant for humans, as they likely contain ingredients that are toxic to your pet. Pet toothpastes come in a few different types, including enzymatic, all-natural, and proprietary formulas, all of which reduce tartar buildup and bad breath. Most are flavored, which helps your pet enjoy the process more. 3 Dental treats While these are not a substitute for brushing, dental treats can help with your pet’s oral health. The chewing action helps prevent plaque buildup, reduce tartar, and freshen breath. Dental treats come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and flavors, so you’re sure to find one suitable for your dog or cat. 4 Chew toys From bone-shaped chews to braided rope toys, this no-calorie option promotes good oral health by scraping away plaque and stimulating your pet’s gums when they gnaw on it. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and some even have ridges and bumps that help clean between teeth. Not all products are created equal, so be sure to consult a veterinarian for recommendations on the best toothbrush, toothpaste, treats, and chews for your dog or cat. And while you’re at it, schedule a dental appointment for your pet. Most experts recommend yearly dental checkups to assess your pet’s dental health. During that appointment, your vet will do a thorough exam, check for signs of dental disease, and determine if it’s necessary to schedule a teeth cleaning to remove buildup that can only be eliminated by a professional cleaning.