Pets have moved out of the backyard and into the bed. As their quality of life has improved, so has the quality of their health care. Several years ago no-one had heard of cleaning a pet’s teeth. Now, it’s part of routine health care. Dental cleanings has become one of the most common procedures we perform. Here are the answers to some pet dental cleaning FAQs.
Why does she need anesthesia?
There are several reasons why anesthesia is needed for a dental prophy. Even the best behaved animal can’t be expected to hold its mouth open for 30 minutes while its teeth are cleaned. A cleaning is not as simple for pets as it is for us, they don’t brush and floss every day. Our pets need a much more extensive cleaning. If a tooth needs to be extracted or x-rayed it cannot be done on an awake animal for obvious reasons. Even the cleaning can be painful if the teeth and gums are less than healthy.
I saw someplace that does anesthesia free dental cleanings.
Anesthesia free cleanings are cosmetic procedures. During a non-professional cleaning a pet is restrained, awake, while the outer surface of its teeth are scraped with a hand scaler. It is impossible to clean all surfaces of the teeth and under the gum line while a pet is awake. The tartar under the gum line that you can’t see is what causes infection and tooth loss. Scaling the teeth without polishing with dental prophy paste and a polisher leaves a rough surface on the tooth making it easier for plaque to adhere and tartar to develop, setting the pet up for future oral problems.
He eats hard food and I buy him dental chews, why does he need his teeth cleaned?
If a dental cleaning has been recommended for your pet, he has dental tartar and a professional cleaning is the only way to remove it. Even if you brushed and flossed your pet’s teeth daily, he would still need a cleaning, we do.
I don’t care about my pet’s bad breath so I don’t worry about cleaning her teeth.
Bad breath is certainly a problem when an animal is in need of dental care but it isn’t the only reason to take care of their oral health, or even the most important one. Oral health affects the health of the other systems in the body. The bacteria in the mouth travels to our pet’s heart, kidneys, and liver. Tartar under the gum line leads to recessed gums, exposed tooth roots, infection and eventually tooth loss. Even though some pets will continue to eat their food, dental disease is painful.
How often does my pet need its teeth cleaned?
Most pets need their teeth cleaned yearly starting at about age two to three. Your veterinarian will examine your pet’s teeth at each yearly exam and recommend a dental cleaning when one is necessary. If you notice bad breath or any change in eating habits a thorough oral exam is in order.
I don’t have her teeth cleaned because it’s too expensive.
When a pet needs multiple teeth extracted or even one major tooth it can get expensive. However, it is always less expensive to have yearly cleanings than to neglect a pet’s oral health until it is having dental problems. Maintenance is always better. There are some pets that just have bad oral health and will end up needing extractions even with yearly cleanings, but even those animals will keep more teeth longer with yearly cleanings.
My pet is having another procedure, can she have her teeth cleaned at the same time?
A great time to have the teeth done is when your pet needs anesthesia for another procedure such as having a growth removed. It is less expensive to have it done in conjunction with another surgical procedure. Your pet will already have its lab work done, IV fluids and medications. Not having to pay for those things twice can really help lower the cost.
Why do you pull teeth?
Tooth extractions are performed for 3 reasons, a tooth is painful, a tooth is infected, or a tooth will be painful or infected in the near future. If a tooth is not causing a problem, there is no need to remove it.
If she has her teeth pulled she won’t be able to eat.
Animals do great after a tooth extraction. If an extraction is recommended for your pet, you will be sent home with pain medications. Soft food will be recommended temporarily if the tooth or teeth extracted were teeth they use to chew. Once the extraction site is healed pets can go back to eating their normal diet. Even if they have no chewing teeth left, pets are so much more comfortable once the painful teeth are gone. Many eat better the night of surgery than they had in a long time. Some even continue to eat hard food, refusing canned. You can imagine how much happier and more comfortable you would be to have no tooth rather than a painful one.