At what point should I have professional dental cleaning done for my pet?

Question:
When should I consider having Oasis Animal Hospital provide professional dental cleaning for my pet?
This is a very common and well-founded question many of you ask. The concerns (sometimes expressed and frequently not stated) are about the risk of anesthesia for your pet and the cost of dental care. We understand this and so we would like to provide some guidelines.

Answer:

Grade one gingivitis

Grade One ginivitis

When we see dental calculus (a.k.a. tartar) build up on the teeth, (see photo to the right), we recommend professional dental cleaning. The photos seen here show what early dental disease looks like on close inspection. In the second photo, it is easy to recognize that this dog has a very infected tooth (which was extracted).

But is there anything we can do to stop the progression from mild dental disease to more severe infections and tooth loss? Home treatment (brushing and using appropriate products) plus having professional care given in a timely manner are the best things you can do to prevent oral infections requiring extractions.

Anesthesia concerns and risks:
One very common concern of our clients is; will my pet survive the anesthetic procedure. Every anesthesia has inherent risk. We are very proud of our well-trained personnel in anesthesia safety. We have also invested in some of the most comprehensive equipment to assist us in the management of anesthesia and patient warming as well. Finally, the risks of NOT providing proper dental care are known. Once periodontal disease starts, the effects are practically irreversible.

 

Cost concerns:

Grade three dental disease

We are very sympathetic to this concern. I (Dr. Tenney) remember when we quoted dental care by the weight of the pet and not by the degree of disease of the teeth and gums. Why? Because the knowledge base and instrumentation we used early in my career very crude by today’s standards. Anesthetic care is radically different now. We did not have the ability to even take dental radiographs nor the training to properly interpret the findings. I am very grateful that we have advanced in the level of dental care we can provide. It shows in the great outcomes we see with our patients. It is remarkable how often clients comment on the improvement they see in the overall attitude and vigor of their family pets within days of dental care.

The “bottom line” of this article is to encourage you to allow us to intervene earlier in the disease process of your pet, providing professional dental cleaning when there is even minor disease present. The overall benefits from good oral and dental health can hardly be overstated.

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