By the time pets are three years old, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some form of periodontal disease. That means that more than likely, your pet’s dental health is overlooked.
You might have heard some wise guy opine that if dogs and cats have survived since the beginning of time without having their teeth professionally cleaned does anyone need to bother? Do pets really need a cleaning by their veterinarian?
The answer to both questions is an emphatic yes. Why? Have a look:
1. Open wide! Now spit. When you go to the dentist, you know why you’re going. You may not be wild about a cleaning, but you recognize the benefits outweigh the temporary inconvenience or discomfort. Your dog or cat has no such assurance. She won’t open her mouth or spit on command. He loathes to choose what color toothbrush he wants.
2. Beware the offers of sedation cleaning. Sedation dentistry may seem like a safer, less expensive method, but nothing could be further than the truth. Dental services provided by anyone without a license is subject to criminal charges.* Their services give a false sense of security. A pet’s teeth will look cosmetically better and whiter when greater problems lie undetected under the gums.
3. What’s going on in here? The only way to thoroughly examine the mouth of a pet is to have that pet under the proper level of anesthesia. Your pet can’t communicate with you where it hurts, so it’s up to a trained professional to closely examine and detect the source of pain. Also a systematic check-up can give a good baseline and should problems arise, early intervention can make a huge difference.
4. Under the gum line. Cleaning under the gum line and in delicate, potentially pain-filled areas can only be done under anesthesia. Power scalers and hand tools have sharp edges to remove tartar, and the slightest move of a patient’s head at an inopportune time could mean pain for all involved. (Pain for pet could easily mean that the pet reacts and bites.)
5. “Suction! I need suction!” Think about how many times your mouth was suctioned out during your last cleaning. Now imagine this for your pet. Inhalation anesthesia delivered by a cuffed tube protects your pet’s airway and lungs from accidental aspiration.
6. Healthy mouth means healthy heart, lungs and kidneys. Just as humans are being advised to pay more attention to their oral health because of its link to overall health, a pet’s mouth shouldn’t be overlooked. When tartar builds up on teeth, bacteria and infection can spread to the rest of the body.
Being vigilant with your pet’s dental health could add years to his life. If you can’t remember the last time your pet’s mouth was examined, or if it’s never been examined, give us a call. And remember, this month, you’ll get a free dental goody bag along with the cleaning!
* American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC)