Why is dental care so important for our pets? For the same reason it’s important to each and every one of us. Yes, it’s true. Have you seen the ads on TV explaining how good dental health is so important because it can affect your kidneys and your heart? Well, it’s the same for our pets. BUT …and this is a major point..our pets aren’t helping out by brushing or flossing their teeth daily. Generally we humans brush and floss twice daily and visit our dentist every 6 months or so for prophylactic care. The same can’t be said for our furry companions. We have 32 teeth to take care of: dogs have 42 and cats 30. It is also important to remember that our pets are good at masking their pain, and yes, they can continue to eat and drink with oral pain. But we all know there is not much more painful than a bad tooth or gum disease.
Now, think back to your last dental exam. The dentist would take X-Rays, then probe along the gums and around all your teeth to establish a treatment plan based on their findings. You sit as still as possible, because you understand that you are helping make the process go easier and quicker. This is not as easy with our pets. That is why we need to anesthetize them to take X-rays as well as perform the dental cleaning (and possible extractions!). While we prefer to leave the teeth in place, a diseased tooth can wreak havoc with the internal organs because of the bacteria being released into the system.
Anesthesia is the safest and surest way to provide the best outcome for most dental procedures. That being said, we always recommend “pre-surgical bloodwork” to insure that the internal organs are operating at normal efficiency, so they can help the body maintain itself while under anesthesia and then eliminate the anesthesia from the body when the procedure is done. While under anesthesia, the full oral exam is completed, X-rays are taken to help uncover any abnormalities under the gum line as well. This extensive exam can often find issues ie. broken teeth, tumors, periodontal disease etc. that may not have been evident while the patient was awake. This helps us provide the best care, with the least amount of stress to your pet.
With this information, we proceed to clean and polish the teeth using the same kind of equipment used by your dentist. We use an ultrasonic scaler to clean the teeth above and below the gum line. We remove plaque that will not come off with regular brushings, clean under the gum line and note any loose teeth or gaps between the gums and teeth that may lead to problems in the future. If diseased or damaged teeth are found, we can remove them, before they cause more problems (and pain). Diseased teeth (or gums) can promote disease in other organs because of the bacteria present. It is this bacteria that can affect the heart or kidneys. When this thorough cleaning is completed, we follow up with a good polishing and fluoride treatment to help protect their teeth until the next visit. When your pet is discharged to you, the technician will go over post-dental care as well as ideas for preventative care that you can do at home. This is the time to talk about brushing his/her teeth. Watch this video on brushing your kitties teeth:
And for our doggie parents:
Now that your pet has lovely clean teeth and fresh breath, what’s next? This is where YOU and home care come in. Best care pet husbandry has 3 basic parts: a quality diet, preventative health care and exercise. A quality diet provides essential nutrients and delivers the proper balance of nutrition for overall good health. Preventative care includes regular teeth cleaning, parasite control and appropriate vaccines. Also, ask about dental treats or chews that can help between regular dental cleanings. Exercise, whether it’s playing ball, walking or swimming improves vitality, bonds your pet with you and establishes trust and goes a long way to insure good health for both you and your pet. These steps will help your pet enjoy a higher quality of life and can save you significant medical costs through their lifetime.
With dental disease being the most common malady in those pets over the age of 2 (sometimes even younger for small dogs), it is well worth the time and expense to invest in good oral health.
Please give us a call if you have any questions about Dental Care and how we can help you and your pet have the long and healthy relationship you deserve.