As pet owners, we want to provide the best possible care for our pets, and regular oral health check ups are just as important for animals as they are for humans. February marks National Pet Dental Health Month, but before you bring your dog or cat to the clinic for a cleaning, you should understand the difference between the services that are out there.
There has been a growing trend in the industry where owners are opting not to use anesthesia on their pets for dental cleaning. This process is called non-professional dental scaling, anesthesia-free dentistry or cosmetic dentistry. In this type of procedure, the pet will only have the plaque on the outside of their teeth cleaned off. Scaling below the gum line or between the teeth is not done and this process does not look out for underlying conditions associated with poor teeth such as tartar, gingivitis and periodontal disease. Removal of dental tartar on the visible surfaces of the teeth has little effect on a pet’s health, and provides a false sense of accomplishment. The effect is purely cosmetic.
A proper veterinary dental cleaning for your pet includes scaling the teeth above and below the gum line, then followed with a dental polishing. Scaling to remove tartar is accomplished using ultrasonic power scalers plus hand instruments. The most critical part of a dental cleaning procedure is scaling the tooth surfaces that are within the space between the gum and the root where periodontal disease is active. Anesthesia allows your veterinarian to examine all surfaces in the oral cavity, take x-rays if needed, and helps ensure your pet’s safety and cooperation during the examination. Inhalation anesthesia using a cuffed endotracheal tube provides the advantages of a cooperative patient, elimination of pain and stress resulting from the examination and treatment of the affected areas and protection of the airway and lungs from accidental aspiration.
We understand the stress and worry that may come with anesthetizing your pet for a dental procedure. However, in the right veterinarian’s hands, taking all necessary precautions, your pet should be in no danger. Most oral disease occurs under the gums of your cat or dog’s teeth, so ensure they receive regular cleanings by your trusted veterinarian.
Not only are regular veterinary oral health checkup’s an important part of your pet’s health, but there are things you can do at home to help maintain your pet’s pearly whites! Regular brushings, a proper diet and dental chew bones (particularly for dogs), will help contribute to healthy mouths. Just as you take care of your own teeth – you should do the same for your furry friend!