Many owners believe that pet dental care is necessary only when a pet stops eating, or has a visible problem, but a pet’s dental health should be a part of their routine veterinary care—including an annual cleaning. Dental extractions are a large part of our day at the Animal Dental Clinic, but we are actually in the business of saving teeth.
Let us show you how an annual dental cleaning can provide lifelong benefits to your pet.
#1: A thorough examination of your pet’s mouth can reveal unseen surface problems
Our veterinary staff will thoroughly assess your pet’s entire oral cavity, checking for disease or pathology. Pet dental cleanings require anesthesia to ensure pet safety—with blinding lights and sharp tools, no pet would participate voluntarily! In addition to everyone’s safety, anesthesia allows our team to check in places an awake patient would never tolerate, such as under the tongue, the back of the throat, the farthest molars, and under the gum line.
#2: A look below the surface with dental X-rays may expose hidden disease
Thanks to enormous roots, half of every tooth lies under the gum—like an iceberg. A whopping 60 percent of pet dental health problems lie below the gumline, unseen by the naked eye. By taking full mouth dental X-rays, our team can see exactly what is going on with each tooth, root, pulp chamber, and surrounding bone and jaw. Dental X-rays allow us to detect painful conditions, such as a crown or root fracture, tooth or root resorption, dental infection, bone erosion, and cancer.
Without routine dental X-rays, pets would suffer in silence from these invisible conditions. In time, the disease or deterioration would be obvious, but by that time, the prognosis would be much poorer. Early detection means early intervention—a tooth can be saved or extracted, the progression of periodontal disease halted, and cancer may be biopsied, removed, and treated.
#3: Your pet gets pearly whites, and a clean sweep of harmful bacteria
An obvious annual dental cleaning benefit is clean teeth and fresh breath, but the benefits extend beyond the surface to a microscopic world we cannot see.
Plaque is formed from the bacteria in saliva, which covers the tooth’s surface as a biofilm. This film hardens over time, layer on layer, and becomes yellow-brown tartar. Many owners comment on tartar’s resemblance to stone or cave formations, and they are not far off the mark. The tartar hardens, and fuses itself to the tooth like cement, usually requiring a plier-like hand tool to crack it off. Although tartar looks inert, the bacterial population is always multiplying, and hiding in two dangerous places—below the gumline, where it becomes periodontal disease, and in the bloodstream, where it spreads infection throughout the body, and inflames internal organs through chronic irritation.
Dental cleaning not only restores your pet’s teeth to their natural bright white, but significantly reduces the bacterial load. Annual cleanings reduce or eliminate all the infection by keeping the bacterial count in check, and never allowing progression to the point of life-threatening heart and kidney damage.
#4: Oral masses can be identified early and biopsied
Bad breath is frequently an early periodontal disease sign, but something more sinister, such as cancer, can be hiding in your pet’s mouth. Anesthetizing a patient for a routine dental procedure, only to find a large mass in the oral cavity, is not uncommon. Benign tumors of the gingival tissue, known as epuli, are not metastatic, but they can grow rapidly, and require surgical removal and potential extraction of nearby teeth. Much more foreboding are the malignant cancers, such as sarcomas and carcinomas, that can aggressively invade the soft oral tissues and move into the jaw bone, requiring radical surgery and radiation.
During your pet’s annual dental cleaning, assessing their oral cavity in detail can identify early any suspicious growths unseen on a routine physical. These masses can then be biopsied for identification, and—if cancerous—surgical excision and treatment can be initiated as soon as possible, potentially before the cancer has spread to the bone.
#5: A fresh start to your pet’s oral home care routine
Everyone knows that working from a new starting point is good—that’s why we love New Year’s resolutions, and we begin new projects at the start of the day, week, month, or hour. Your pet’s annual dental cleaning provides a great starting point—or do-over—to your home dental care routine.
After a dental cleaning, your pet’s teeth are restored to a clean state, and it’s up to you to maintain them. This is a more achievable goal than brushing dirty teeth, and is certainly more comfortable for your pet. Do your part to keep your pet’s dental health on track by reviewing proper teethbrushing techniques, and speaking with us about recommended chew products, dental diets, and water additives.
At The Animal Dental Clinic, we believe that the value of routine pet dental cleanings should never be overlooked. We vigilantly protect our pets against daily threats with vaccinations, preventive products, seat belts, and leashes, but then we neglect the threat that lurks literally right under their nose. Contact us to schedule your pet’s annual dental cleaning.