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Annual dental exams and cleanings are recommended to protect your pet from many health problems and help them maintain a healthy and clean mouth.
Studies show that 50% of all dogs and cats have some form of periodontal disease. That number jumps to 80% in pets that are 3 years of age or older. If left untreated, periodontal disease can cause infection, pain, and tooth loss over time. It can also lead to serious health problems like microscopic changes in the heart, liver, and kidneys. Because of this, we recommend an annual veterinary dental healthcare examination for all pets.
Many health problems start in the mouth. Plaque, tartar, periodontal disease, and infected teeth serve as a source of inflammation and infection for the rest of the body.
Dental disease is one of the most common problems that we see in dogs and cats. It can cause drooling, reluctance to eat, swelling, bad breath, redness of the gums, loose teeth and tooth discoloration.
Dental issues and dental related diseases can easily be prevented by visiting our veterinarians regularly for dental examinations and cleanings. We take a comprehensive approach to dental care including dental health assessment, treatment, and prevention.
Dog and cat dental cleanings are very similar to human dental cleanings, except that we are required to use anesthesia to properly and safely examine and clean the teeth. After the cleaning, our veterinarians perform a thorough oral exam and check for signs of disease like gum loss, root exposure, or pockets around the root.
Also similar to human dentistry, we do full mouth radiographs (x-rays) of your pet. This allows our veterinarians to be able to evaluate the roots of your pet's teeth as well as any disease or abnormalities that are located below the gum line and not visible on examination alone.
We make every effort to save teeth that we feel have a chance to be successfully treated. In many circumstances, however, periodontal disease is so advanced that treatment without extraction is unsuccessful. We only extract teeth that in the doctor's opinion are beyond saving.
Many teeth require oral surgery to safely remove each individual root. We have extensive training and experience to perform these procedures properly. Pain medications are administered in clinic and provided for in-home aftercare.
I have seen Anesthesia Free Dental Cleanings advertised at local pet stores, can I just do that instead?
Why Pet Medical Center and Spa never recommends “Anesthesia-free Dental Cleaning:”
Risk to your pet – struggling against being held firmly can lead to damage to tongue, gums, lips and even eyes. Scraping moving teeth with metal is more likely to damage tooth enamel and lead to more rapid tartar accumulation in the future.
It is illegal for anyone besides a DVM or trained, licensed veterinary technician under direct DVM supervision to practice dentistry. (This includes any application of metal instruments to dental tissues.)
The most important parts of professional dental care are not possible without general anesthesia. Dental radiographs, thorough oral examination, extractions if needed, and cleaning under the gumline on an awake are impossible on an awake and potentially struggling pet.
“Anesthesia-free dental cleaning” leads to a false impression that appropriate care has been provided and postpones professional diagnostics and therapy.
The stressful experience can lead to “head shyness” and an even more difficult time appropriately brushing your pet’s teeth at home.
Fear of tooth loss and of general anesthesia are common reason people postpone appropriate professional dental care. We pursue every possible means of reducing the low risk of general anesthesia and utilize the safest anesthesia available. Modern anesthesia monitoring and appropriate support of the patient make these procedures as safe for your pet as they are for people. The considerable risk of attempting to scrape supra-gingival tartar without anesthesia are not warranted for the minimal benefit. And while losing teeth is disappointing, chronic untreated infection is a serious danger to your pet’s health.
Click here for a statement from the American College of Veterinary Dentistry on non-professional dental scaling.