One of the most common human and animal diseases is periodontal (gum) disease. The buildup of plaque and then tartar on the teeth leads to gum infections, root infections, bad breath, and eventually tooth loss. The hard chewing action of dry food can help reduce the potential of dental problems as can daily cleaning with a soft toothbrush or gauze. Most important for a healthy mouth is periodic professional care, which includes a thorough cleaning and scraping of plaque under general anesthesia. After cleaning, the teeth are polished so that plaque has a more difficult time adhering to the surface of the tooth, an important step in preventative dentistry.