Oral health is a very important part of your pet’s overall well-being. Not only is dental disease painful for your pet, but it is a chronic source of infection which your pet’s immune system has to work hard to control. If your pet has bad breath, chances are an infection is present in the mouth.
We will evaluate your pet’s oral health and make recommendations for the best course of action. Often this will involve a full oral exam under general anesthesia. During this oral evaluation, we will take digital radiographs of every tooth. The radiographs will be evaluated for signs of infection, fractures, or bone loss. If infected or painful teeth are seen on x-rays, the tooth will be extracted at that time. The remaining teeth will be scaled and polished. The full oral cavity will be checked for growths or signs of oral cancer.
Here are some FAQ’s:
He doesn’t act like he’s in pain. He’s eating just fine.
Your pet will not show you that he has dental pain until the pain is severe. Most pets live with chronic mouth pain, and because the pain is always present they learn to live with it. If the pain becomes severe, you may notice your pet eating more slowly, dropping food, or not getting excited about his favorite meal anymore. Pets have a hard time showing us they are in pain. We know that an infected tooth in a human mouth is extremely painful. The same is true for dogs and cats.
I am worried about my pet undergoing general anesthesia. Is that safe?
Yes! This is what often worries most pet owners, however, under proper protocols, anesthesia is very safe. Laboratory work will be performed to evaluate your pet’s internal organ function prior to anesthesia. Your pet will be monitored under anesthesia by a trained veterinary technician who monitors blood pressure, blood oxygen saturation, end-tidal carbon dioxide, electrocardiogram, respiratory rate, and body temperature. Intravenous fluids will be administered throughout the procedure to help maintain your pet’s blood pressure and provide intravenous access for additional drugs if they are needed. Your pet will be kept warm with warming blankets during the procedure. If oral surgery is performed, we will also use a local anesthetic in your pet’s mouth. This allows the veterinarian to use less general anesthetic thereby improving the safety of the anesthetic procedure and allowing your pet to recover more quickly and with less pain. We are happy to discuss every step of the process with you.
Why does my pet need general anesthesia?
Our pets are unable to comprehend a professional dental cleaning. If people are frightened by the sounds and the smells at the dentist, imagine the feelings of a beloved pet! Pets, like people, need routine professional dental care in order to maintain a healthy and pain-free mouth and to prevent diseases. The American Veterinary Medical Association and American Animal Hospital Association recommend that pet dental cleanings should be performed under anesthesia. According to the 2013 AAHA Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats, “General anesthesia with intubation is necessary to properly assess and treat the companion animal dental patient.” In order for us to do a full and thorough oral evaluation, take x-rays (to evaluate the health of the jaw and tooth roots), clean below the gum line, and perform any necessary oral surgery, your pet absolutely needs to be under anesthesia. Cleaning includes scaling (to remove dental plaque and tartar) and polishing, similar to the process used on your own teeth. This whole process can take anywhere from half an hour up to two hours depending on the severity of your pet’s dental disease.
I’ve heard about anesthesia-free dental cleanings for pets.
Is this recommended?
Anesthesia free dental cleanings provide no benefit to your pet and do not prevent periodontal disease at any level. In fact, it gives you a false sense of security as a pet owner; because the teeth look whiter, they are healthier. That is false! It is unsafe for many reasons. Please click here to know the facts about Anesthesia Free Dentistry.
How will my pet eat if you have to extract teeth?
Dogs have 42 adult teeth and Cats have 30 adult teeth. During the oral health evaluation, if we see a tooth that is loose, infected, broken, or painful, that tooth will be extracted. Trust us, your pet will not miss it, they will be relieved that the pain is gone. Dogs and cats are very adaptable and most pets will continue to eat their dry food just fine. If a pet has multiple extractions, sometimes they will need to switch to canned food. Pets usually gain weight after a dental procedure – they are happy to eat pain-free!
How much does a dental prophylaxis cost?
After we do a physical exam on your pet, we will provide you with a full written estimate detailing the expected cost of the procedure. The price will vary based on the degree of disease in your pet’s mouth. A severely diseased mouth will require more time, more anesthesia, and likely more oral surgery than a mouth that has been kept relatively healthy. Please call us if you have questions about your pet’s dental health!
What can I do to help prevent dental disease?
Have your pet’s teeth and gums examined at least once a year by your veterinarian. Avoid anesthesia-free dental cleanings, which don’t allow for examination below the gum-line where most problems reside. Home dental care is essential. Brushing is best, or you may ask your veterinarian about alternatives like:
• Special diets
• Dental treats and chews
• Water additives, rinses, and wipes
• Watch for the VOHC seal on dental products.
The Veterinary Oral Health Council awards its seal of acceptance to products that successfully meet pre-set criteria for effectiveness in controlling plaque and tartar deposition in dogs and cats.
Visit www.VOHC.org to learn more.