Regular dental examinations and cleanings are needed to increase the lifespan and comfort of our pets.
Reminder for dental procedure patients: On procedure day, drop off your pet between 7 and 8 AM after an overnight fast. Procedures are done in the middle of the day, and your pet will typically go home the same day.
More than 85% of pets over the age of three are suffering from some sort of dental disease.
At home care
You can reduce the need for dental cleanings by using dental home care products designed to remove plaque buildup between the veterinary visits. The gold standard is to brush your pet’s teeth daily. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and a special enzymatic product designed for pets. You should never use human toothpaste! We recommend C.E.T. enzymatic paste.
Certain diets, like Hill’s® t/d food or Eukanuba® Dental Defense, or dental chew products like Greenies® can also reduce the amount of plaque for problem cases. Look for the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) Seal when choosing chew products for your pet.
Even the barrier sealant used at your veterinarian’s office is available in a home version. Oravet® by Merial can be applied on a weekly basis to help reinforce the product used at the time of your pet’s dental cleaning.
Scaling removes the plaque and tartar from the surface of the teeth and under the gum line. This is performed with our ultrasonic scaler which is very similar to the process used by a human dentist.
Polishing removes the microscopic scratches created during the cleaning process. The smooth surface of the teeth after polishing helps slow the recurrence of dental tartar.
Extraction, or removal of a tooth, may need to be performed if the tooth is diseased or fractured. This will help control infection and remove a source of pain.
If you know your pet needs a proper dental cleaning, but the thought of general anesthesia frightens you, talk with your veterinarian. While no anesthetic protocol is 100% safe, anesthetic complications are extremely rare. Allow us to show you the monitoring equipment and explain how a our well trained staff makes anesthesia as safe as possible.
Warning: Non-anesthetic dentals
In response to client concerns about anesthetics for dental procedures, some non-professionals have developed Anesthesia-Free Pet Dentistry (AFPD) protocols. Marketing brochures show calm dogs sitting on the laps of “pet dental hygienists” who gently scrape tartar off the pet’s teeth. For anyone who has a senior pet or anyone who has lost a pet under anesthetic, this idea might seem appealing.
Veterinarians use ultrasonic scalers and sharp dental instruments. This is one reason a general anesthetic is needed. Beyond keeping the patient from moving, heavy sedation or general anesthetic allows a more thorough procedure and proper visualization of the entire mouth and hard to see gingival areas.
Dr. Brett Beckman, a fellow in the American Veterinary Dental Society, says, “Most non-professional dental cleanings are done using some sort of hand curette. These tools cause scarring and micro-pitting of the enamel surface, and this can actually accelerate plaque retention and tartar build-up!” In other words, this incomplete “cleaning” actually damages the tooth, causing plaque and tartar development to occur more rapidly in the future.
Dr. Beckman goes on to say that “these procedures do much more harm than good. Pets that have had this done actually need to return for more frequent cleanings as a result of this enamel damage. This might be good for the business, but it is certainly not good for the pet.”
In a proper veterinary medical setting, dental cleanings are followed by a polishing step that helps remove the microscopic divots from the tooth enamel and creates a smooth healthy surface. Many veterinarians also apply a barrier sealant that helps repel plaque-causing bacteria and has been shown to reduce plaque and tartar accumulation. Once professionally applied, this sealant can be maintained at home for better prevention.
Another serious issue with AFPD cleanings is that only visible portions of the teeth can be cleaned – usually only the outside surfaces. Areas under the gumline and on the insides of teeth will still have significant tartar and harbor the harmful bacteria. In time, the underlying bony structure of the jaw can deteriorate and the pet may lose teeth.
Under safe anesthesia, veterinarians and RVTs are able to probe all areas of the mouth and use tools to remove plaque and bacteria from under the gum line. This actually stops the disease process.
Finally, safety is also an issue with these non-professional cleanings. Even though many pets are patient and tolerant, there is the very real danger that the dog or cat will lash out in frustration or pain and bite someone. Lacerations of the pets gums, hard palate and even the lips are also possible.