Pet Health

Top 5 Things You Need To Know About Pet Dental Cleanings

Written by Dr. Adam Abou-Youssef Feb 4 • 4 minute read

 

Dental health is something we talk about A LOT at Essington Road Animal Hospital. Unlike other diseases, we know that every single pet will develop dental disease at some point in her life.

With a 100% occurrence rate, it’s no wonder we put a lot of emphasis on it.

There are a few things we wish every pet parent knew, so they could protect their pet from this threat. If we could wave a magic wandand give everyone this knowledge, we would… lacking that ability, we’ve gone ahead and written them down for you below:



1. Bad breath is dental disease

Halitosis, or bad breath, is the result of bacteria building up in the mouth and forming tartar on teeth. Over time, this turns into infection of the gums and underlying bone (yuck!).

When we see “dental disease” in your pet’s mouth, we’re actually looking at the signs of these infections and the damage they do to his teeth and jaw bones.

Bad breath is the first sign of these changes and gets worse as the disease progresses.


2. Dental disease is preventable

Every pet will have tartar build up, just like every person does, but we can prevent severe problems through daily home care and regular cleanings. It’s not often we have such a simple and effective option for such a serious disease.

Home care consists of spending about one minute a day rubbing the outer aspect of your pet’s teeth wit

h special flavored toothpaste. (We can show you how to easily do this at your next checkup.) The toothpaste is delicious and pets usually think it’s a big treat!


3. Early intervention is the best for your pet… and your wallet

We love nothing better than getting into a pet’s mouth for a thorough cleaning when it is just that – a cleaning.

When your pet has early dental disease (think mild brown staining and bad breath), we can thoroughly clean all the teeth and let your pet recover from anesthesia quickly. The risks go down and recovery is fast. Your pet gets back to perfect dental health easily—win, win, win!

As dental disease progresses, we have to perform oral surgery to remove deeper infection. The procedure takes longer and is invasive, meaning your pet needs to be under anesthesia for longer, and go through a harder recovery. The costs increase significantly, too.

The best time to get a cleaning is when your pet’s disease is mild. We’ll be thrilled, your pet will feel great afterwards, and your wallet will thank you, too.


4. We’re not just worried about teeth

Your pet’s teeth are just the tip of the dental disease iceberg. We can point to the teeth, but we’re actually worried about his whole body.

Infection in the mouth eats away at the jaw bones (I’ve even seen dogs with broken jaws due to loss of bone density from these infections!), and can travel to internal organs, too. Pets with dental disease even have higher levels of inflammatory proteins circulating in their bloodstream.

Dental health is about more than a toothache; it’s about their overall health.

 

 


5. The risk of anesthesia is lower than the risk of untreated disease

You may have heard of so-called “anesthesia-free dentals”; we certainly have, and find them frustrating to say the least. These procedures include scraping tartar off of the visible surfaces of the teeth, to the extent that a fully conscious dog or cat will allow. The scraping is uncomfortable at a minimum, painful if teeth have root disease that can’t be seen, and an all-around scary experience for most pets.

At the same time, we take the risk of general anesthesia very seriously. When it comes to “routine” procedures, nothing is routine, and we have dozens of safeguards in place to make sure your pet’s well-being is the number one priority throughout.

The benefit of anesthesia is it allows us to be thorough. We can clean above the gum line, but also beneath it, where the most damaging bacteria grow. We can also assess tooth roots for infection, and thoroughly check all the parts of the oral cavity not normally visible when our pets are awake.


We know there are a lot of aspects to caring for your pet, and dental care sometimes gets put on the back burner.

If you can’t remember what we said about your pet’s teeth during the last visit, or what exactly we’d recommended, give us a call! We keep a detailed record of what we find during each visit and can review what our most recent assessment showed.

If you want a fresh assessment from Dr. Adam or a lesson in how to care for your pet’s teeth at home, come for a visit! It might seem weird, but we are passionate about dental health and helping our patients—your four-legged family members—live their best lives.

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