Regular dental cleanings are an extremely important part of annual care for your pet. It is estimated that 85% of all pets have periodontal disease by the time they are 3 years of age. Periodontal disease is a result of a combination of food particles with bacteria found in the mouth that leads to plaque formation on teeth. These bacteria also find their way under the gums and cause gingivitis. If the bacteria reach under the gums, they can erode supporting tissue of the teeth and cause tooth loss if not addressed. This is known as periodontitis. If the periodontal disease is not treated, bacteria that form in the mouth can travel in the bloodstream to infect the heart, kidneys, and liver.
What Happens in a Dental Cleaning?
During an animal hospitals dental procedure, plaque and tartar are removed from teeth and veterinarians are able to assess the entire mouth of your pet to look for gingivitis and eroded teeth caused by periodontitis. In order for your pet to have a proper and thorough dental cleaning, they are placed under general anaesthesia to ensure that they are pain free during the entire procedure. Their vitals are monitored frequently and an endotracheal tube is placed in order to support the patients breathing and to ensure they do not swallow any bacteria that is removed during cleaning. During a dental procedure plaque is removed, enamel is polished, fractured teeth are repaired, the entire mouth is inspected for growths and additional problems, x-rays are taken to evaluate problems and teeth may need to be removed.
What are the signs and symptoms that my pet needs a dental cleaning?
Regular animal hospitals dental inspections will allow you as an owner to catch dental disease in early stages. During inspections, look for tartar build up on the teeth close to the gum line. Very red or bleeding gum lines indicate the incidence of gingivitis. Some other signs of dental disease include bad breath, drooling, pawing at the mouth, difficulty eating and losing teeth.
Why do I need to do dental regular cleanings?
Since the dental cleanings remove plaque and tartar on teeth, they serve to eliminate sources of infection in order to protect your pet from tooth loss and potential issues with their other organs.
Is there anything I can do to keep my pet’s teeth clean?
Once the pet has a thorough cleaning, there are additional preventative measures you can do at home in order to lengthen the time between dentals. There are many pet products marketed that claim to improve dental health, however, not all of them are truly effective. Before using any of these products speak with your veterinarian.
- Daily Brushing
Daily brushing is one technique that can remove food particles between your pets’ teeth in order to prevent the growth of plaque and tartar. You can use a small toothbrush or finger toothbrush and pet toothpaste. Human toothpaste should be avoided because it should not be swallowed by your pet. In order to protect the back molars that you cannot reach with general brushing, there are a number of products to use, such as Maxiguard oral cleansing gel that can be purchased from the clinic.
- Special Diets
There are also special diets, such as T/D dental bites, that are formulated to reduce plaque, stain and tartar build up. Additionally, there are treats such as CET dental chews for dogs and greenies for cats. Healthy Mouth can also be added to your pets water as well. All products listed above can be purchased directly from our clinic.
- Routine Mouth Inspections
Make sure you examine your pet’s mouth often to look for loose teeth, unusual growths and lumps and tartar build up. It is also recommended to arrange for regular oral examinations with your veterinarian. They will alert you of any existing or potential problems in your pet’s mouth and allow a treatment plan if anything is wrong.
Some of the information used in this article is in reference to the American Veterinary Medical Association. www.avma.org