Why your Pet's Teeth Should be Cleaned

Did You Know Your Pet’s Dental Health Affects Overall Health?

Bacteria left to accumulate under your pet’s gums will eventually cause gingivitis and possibly tooth loss. As the bacteria infiltrate the blood stream, serious infections may develop in the heart, kidneys and liver. Pets with existing health problems are most vulnerable. A complete diet and home care tooth brushing, wiping or rinsing, as well as an annual professional cleaning by your veterinarian, are essential to maintaining your pet’s healthy mouth.

When Does Your Pet Have a Problem?

Some signs of dental trouble are apparent: bad breath, oral bleeding, continuous sneezing, excessive drooling or a change in eating habits such as dropping food, frequent trips to the food bowl without actually eating or tipping the head at different angles. Some dental problems can only be diagnosed while your pet is under anesthesia during a professional dental cleaning.

What if You Suspect a Problem?

Make an appointment with your veterinarian for your pet to have an oral examination and assessment. Dental prophylaxis is usually recommended. Most oral issues need to be resolved or fully assessed while your pet is under anesthesia.

What is Dental Prophylaxis?

A dental prophylaxis is an oral medical procedure performed under anesthesia for the safety and comfort of your pet, and to allow the dental hygienist to complete a detailed and thorough teeth cleaning and examination.

Inspection and assessment of tooth root surface, tooth mobility, sub-gingival calculus (tartar below the gum line) and periodontal pockets. This is followed by extensive water flushing of the mouth to remove plaque and food particles.

  • A Piezo Ultrasonic Scaler with specialized KLAW tips is used to remove all tartar and calculus buildup on the teeth by ultrasonic action.
    A 0.2 percent chlorhexadine rinse is used to flush and clean the oral cavity.
  • A fluoride paste, applied with a polishing cup, is used to polish the teeth to a high gloss, smoothing the tooth surface to help prevent plaque buildup. The fluoride has three functions: harden the enamel, desensitize the tooth root and prevent tooth decay. Residue polish is rinsed away with a fast spray of water.
  • Your pet is now ready to wake up.
  • Occasionally, a pet with severe dental disease may experience oral discomfort following cleaning. Typically, this discomfort resolves in a few days. Soft food is recommended in some cases, and oral antibiotics may be dispensed.

What Next?

Home care to prevent plaque buildup should include tooth brushing, wiping away plaque with a moist cloth and, in some cases, medicated mouth rinses are recommended to destroy oral bacteria. A water pick may be used on some pets to help keep teeth clean. Human toothpaste is not recommended because many contain detergents that will upset your pet’s stomach. Enzymatic toothpaste specifically for pets is available.
Pets over two years of age should have their teeth cleaned, polished and treated with fluoride once each year. Pets with severe dental disease may be scheduled for a dental prophylaxis every six months.
We do not recommended extracting teeth if they can be saved. At some time, your pet may need a root canal and a crown to save or restore a fractured tooth.

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