The Importance of Dental Care in Pets and The Process of a Dental Cleaning
By: Dr. Clayton Greenway, B.Sc., DVM | Nov 4, 2016
Dr. Greenway discusses the importance of dental care in pets as it relates to health and the process of a dental cleaning. Other topics covered in this video include dental disease, tooth decay, neck lesions, cavity, gingivitis, when to perform a cleaning, general anesthesia, blood work, heart, scaling, polish, prophy, tooth assessment, dental X-rays, oral infections and , tooth decay.
I’m Dr. Clayton greenway with healthcareforpets.com. One big problem we see in our pets is dental health and it’s largely overlooked. You can imagine with us, we brush our teeth two, three times a day, we go to the dentist twice a year and they scrape our teeth for about 20 minutes. Our pets have nothing like that, so they accumulate tartar quite dramatically and it’s largely overlooked by clients. We don’t typically look in our pets mouths and over time their dental health can really degrade and it can affect other parts of their life. They can have pain in their mouth, they can have teeth that start to disintegrate or get what we call neck lesions or cavities, they can also get periodontal disease, they can get tooth root infections and these infections can also spread to other areas of the body.
So if you’re providing good healthcare for your pet, then you’re providing good dental care as well. I wanted to talk a little bit about that. The first thing is, is it’s good to look at your pets teeth from time to time. You can take a look at our videos on the staging of dental health in your pets mouth and that will tell you exactly what level of dental disease there is. If you take a look, you’ll start to see that the gums, they’ll start to get red after there’s a lot of tartar that accumulates and that redness is gingivitis. Now you can have as much tartar on the teeth as you like. If you perform a dental cleaning it removes that but once you start to get gingivitis that’s where pockets can form and levels of disease that don’t correct themselves after dental cleaning.
So the process of this is it can be done at most veterinary clinics. What it involves is a general anesthetic, so you always want to take blood work beforehand, you want to have a good listen to the heart, make sure there’s no heart conditions and it’s really important not to be afraid of that general anesthetic. Dental health is really important and anesthesia these days is quite safe. I find that’s what clients try to do is they get a little nervous about the general anesthetic and that prevents them from providing good healthcare for their pets mouth so you want to talk to your veterinarian about that. It’s usually a day procedure and the other thing is is you want to get an estimate because it’s costly and quite frankly it’s difficult to convince clients that this is important. It’s a really unseen problem and you really want to get in there, take a look because it can really impact your pet’s health.
So the process of a dentistry is that the teeth are scaled and then polished but what your veterinarian will also do is look for defects in the teeth and pockets to see if any teeth need to be extracted. This is something that owners always seem to worry about, but as veterinarians we know that it’s necessary to prevent pain in certain teeth and really address disease down the road. You want your vet to extract a tooth that’s going to be a problem. If they don’t, you’re going to be back at the vet having another dental problem within six to 12 months.
The other thing your vet might do is take X-rays of the mouth and that’s really important because the tooth roots can’t be seen when they’re just visually inspecting it. They have to take X-rays to see if there’s any lesions down in the roots and that that tooth may need to come out.
Pets do really well with dental cleanings and also with extractions, just make sure that your vet is giving good pain control and antibiotics afterwards and they’ll do great with that. So I always find that it’s difficult to convince people to do this sort of thing but you have to find a vet that fits your philosophy of ownership.
Let’s face it some people will never do good dental care on their pets just from the expense of it, but if you can afford it, it will make a big difference in your pet going forward and their overall health because what’s most important to us is your pet’s health here at healthcareforpets.com.
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