Why and How Often Does My Pet Need Teeth Cleaning?
Maintaining your pet’s oral and dental health is just as important as every other aspect of their well-being, and almost all veterinary professionals will and should recommend that you schedule annual physical examinations. Unlike most people (apologies to the pediatric dentists out there), dogs and cats never allow for a proper and safe teeth cleaning, so veterinarians recommend general anesthesia for your dog while undergoing dental procedures.
When your pet needs dental x-rays, scaling/polishing, or extractions, it’s actually safer and much kinder to your pet to do this under anesthesia. Dental cleanings are more than just cleanings. They actually allow us to closely inspect your pet’s mouth, gums, teeth, and oral cavity, and it also allows us to take x-rays to look for possible problems not otherwise detectable.
How often should I have their teeth cleaned?
The question of how often you should have your pet’s teeth cleaned depends on several factors, such as age, breed, and environmental factors of your pet.
Older pets will generally require more dental care, as diet and immune strength generally change with time. Annual exams with your veterinarian are useful to make sure their teeth and gums are healthy.
– Breed and size
Small breed dogs usually need more dental cleanings, and at a younger starting age. Small dogs need dental cleanings more often than larger dogs because their teeth, relative to their mouths, are big, which causes crowded teeth where saliva and food particles get trapped.
Also, dogs with short faces and noses, such as Pugs, Bulldogs, and Shih Tzus are more at risk for dental disease because they are prone to deformed and poorly placed permanent teeth, which gives more places for bacteria to accumulate. Small dogs have more shallow tooth roots, so any kind of periodontal disease can cause earlier problems than dogs with deep-seated roots.
Larger dogs don’t have the same dental issues as small dog, but they are more prone to broken or fractured teeth due to strong chewing habits, and this can cause mouth pain, or lack of appetite.
– Environmental Factors
How often you should have your pet’s teeth cleaned also depends on diet and home dental care. For example, if you brush your pet’s teeth 5 or more times per week, give approved dental treats/supplements, or feed a dental diet, this could extend(but not eliminate)the duration between professional cleanings. Also, if you have a dog who is not a chewer, and eats mostly soft food, they might need more frequent cleanings.
Why would my pet need a dental?
The primary issue is the development of periodontal disease, which is caused by plaque. Dental plaque is formed by the growth of bacterial film arising from saliva, food, cells from the mouth. When it builds up, it can lead to gum inflammation, destroying gum tissue and possibly even bone. If periodontal disease progresses, it will lead to bad breath, mobile teeth, bleeding gums, a painful mouth, and even serious infections of the kidneys and heart. There are also studies that show suspicions that chronic dental disease can be involved in dementia/cognitive decline in pets(and people!)
What occurs during a dental cleaning?
Your pet would need to be held off food after dinner the day before the procedure, and you would bring them in first thing in the morning. Water is usually not withheld from pets. Because dental procedures are performed under general anesthesia, a veterinarian at Blue Lake will conduct a physical examination beforehand. Depending on the age and health of your pet, your veterinarian will likely require blood work before the procedure to ensure that your dog’s liver and kidneys are healthy for the procedure. One of the nurses would then place an IV (intravenous) catheter, and give a pre-anesthetic sedative to help your animal relax. The anesthetic is given through the catheter, and your pet gently falls asleep. Just like people undergoing anesthesia, we will closely monitor vital signs such as blood pressure, oxygen saturation, heart rate, temperature, etc. X-rays would be taken and reviewed, the teeth scaled and polished, and any other necessary procedures done at the same time. We also provide an option of applying a sealant to the teeth after a cleaning to slow the advancement of plaque afterwards. Following the dental procedure, your pet recovers in a warm padded cage with an assistant monitoring them and where post-procedure vitals are monitored. Almost all dental procedures are done as outpatient, i.e., you arrive first thing in the morning to drop off, and they go home the same afternoon.
How do I help keep my dog’s teeth healthy at home?
If your dog will allow it, brushing their teeth is an effective way to help keep the teeth and gums healthy. We recommend daily brushing with a pet-safe enzymatic toothpaste. You typically only need to brush the outside aspect of the teeth. If that isn’t possible, we recommend daily Oravet chews, which have an ingredient that prevents plaque from sticking to the teeth as well. Call Blue Lake Animal Care Center at (530-600-3911) to learn more.