Are you surprised to learn that 80% of pets have dental disease by the age of four? Dental disease is painful and can lead to many other issues for our pets. For most pet owners, bad breath is the first reason that dental disease that is noticed. However, other signs include gingivitis (red, painful gums), tartar build up, pus coming from around the teeth, drooling, trouble eating, chattering, and scratching at the face. It is not uncommon for us to hear that owners did not have any idea of the degree of dental disease present as their pet was still eating. The common misconception is that a pet will not eat if their mouth hurts. Unfortunately, this is not the case. It is imperative that we examine a pet's mouth and determine if dental disease is present.
Not only is dental disease painful, but it is also linked to heart, liver, and kidney disease. There is a bounty of research that reveals that adequate dental care can add up to four years to your pets life!! For a dental cleaning to be productive, a pet must be under general anesthetic. Only then can the mouth be fully assessed, digital radiographs be taken, and the mouth appropriately cleaned. The same instruments and equipment that you would find at your dentist are used in pet dentistry. Plaque and tartar is removed by an ultrasonic scaler and hand scaling both below and above the gum line. The teeth are then polished to remove any micro abrasions and make the surface smooth. This is part of what helps decrease plaque from forming again. Sometimes teeth are found to be fractured, abscessed, or resorbing. These teeth are surgically extracted. We have all pets come back for a complimentary examination one week after their dental. At this time we check the progress of the mouth and also construct an at home dental hygiene plan. This may include brushing, feeding a dental diet, giving dental treats, or applying gels to the mouth. Our aim after a dental is to give you the tools to keep your pet's mouth as healthy as possible.
It is often thought that a pet sleeping all day and retreating from their normal activity is due to aging. However, it is amazing to us how often after a dental cleaning an owner reports that their dog or cat is once again acting young and happy.
All of our patients receiving dental cleanings receive intravenous fluids, proper pain control before, during and after the procedure, post dental care, and consultation.
We do not recommend nor support "anesthetic free teeth cleaning". For a proper assessment of the mouth, radiographs must be taken. In fact, 50% of dental disease in cats can only be detected with x-rays Additionally, to effectively clean the teeth, scaling must be done around every single tooth and under the gums. This is absolutely impossible when a pet is awake. Cosmetic, anesthetic free dental cleanings are conducted by a non-veterinary professional and does not address periodontal disease and often leads to enamel damage to the teeth.
If anyone suggests that they can provide any valuable level of dental care without full general anesthesia, they are seriously ill-informed. It simply cannot be done. In many places it is illegal/malpractice to offer such "services". Regardless of jurisdiction, it is a terrible idea and should be avoided completely.