Many people are unaware of the importance of their pet's dental health.
"White" teeth appear clean and unproblematic, but unseen plaque, which is an accumulation of bacteria, will build up and form calculus (tartar). Calculus irritates the gums and the infection progresses to loosen and destroy teeth. When the pet eats, calculus will create a shower of bacteria into the blood stream and can spread to the liver, kidneys, and heart.
It is important to have your pet's teeth checked at least once a year. Your veterinarian should examine all teeth and evaluate the amount of plaque and or tartar. If teeth are cleaned when they have very little plaque or tartar, the process will help prevent future disease, similar to your yearly dental visit. If you wait until there is visible tartar accumulation, dental disease is already present, which may require further treatment.
Removing calculus from teeth with just a hand scraper, or while the pet is awake, does not address the biggest problem, disease below the gum line. It is important to use an ultrasonic scaler, as this instrument reaches below the gum line.
Dental radiographs (x-rays) are also a crucial part of the dental treatment process; they allow the veterinarian to assess the attachment of teeth to the bone, if any abscesses are present, or if fractures below the gumline have occurred.
General anesthesia is necessary to: clean below the gum line, control pain, and place an endotracheal tube to prevent bacteria from entering the windpipe as well as administer the anesthesia and oxygen. In general, untreated dental disease puts your pet at a greater risk than anesthesia. Blood work is recommended prior to any anesthetic procedure to ensure internal organ health and assess any potential risk. Gas anesthesia and patient monitoring by a licensed veterinary technician adds to the safety of any procedure.
Regular dental care by licensed veterinary professionals helps to keep your pet healthy.
Please visit our Dental FAQ page for more information on the dental cleaning process.