Pet Dental ExamQ. Why does my pet need his teeth cleaned?

A. Even though you  brush your pet’s teeth regularly, taking your pet to the vet for teeth cleaning is important but brushing is not the same as cleaning. Only people trained in proper animal dental care should clean your pet’s teeth! Taking your pet to your veterinarian for the routine cleaning of those choppers will help prevent the complications that can arise from improper plaque removal.

Some pets will only need a cleaning every two or three years, but others–especially cats, with their sensitive mouths–may need their teeth cleaned more frequently. A dental visit for your pet will look a lot like yours!

1. Pre-anesthetic screening: Pet dentistry is a more involved process, because our furry babies don’t realize that we’re digging around in their mouths to help them! Vets will check liver and kidney function, red and white blood cell count, and blood sugar levels to make sure that your pet is healthy enough for anesthesia. Sometimes it’s necessary to monitor the heart rhythm for anything abnormal, but all patients get an IV with fluids to combat dehydration and maintain decent blood pressure.

2. Cleaning: Tartar and plaque are removed from teeth, and the enamels are polished to a sparkling finish.

3. Oral examination: Now that the teeth are clean, vets do what they do best: ensure the health of your pet’s mouth. They’ll check every tooth for problems like wobbling, fractures, infection, gum disease, and cavities. Cats are especially prone to holes in their teeth that can cause bad infections. The rest of the mouth is checked for injuries, infection, and tumors.

4. Treatment: If your pet has been brushing like Doc said, it’s time to go home after some fluoride and rinsing! If, however, there are problem teeth, they’ll need to be removed surgically. Infections in the teeth cause a lot of pain in addition to smelling terrible, and removing them is the only way to ensure that your pet won’t endure it any longer. Once the stitches heal, they’ll be good as new!

5. At-Home Follow Up: The vet’s work is done for now, but yours is only beginning. Fido’s teeth will be evaluated during his annual physical exam, so dental hygiene at home is important if you want a gold star at your next appointment. Daily brushing, Hill’s/Greenies treats, or certain chew toys will combat tartar and keep your pet’s teeth healthy for years to come. The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) has compiled a convenient list of just such products!

TAILored Pet Services is here to help with your dogs’ at-home dental needs by giving him treats to combat tarter after each of our walks. We have numerous monthly dog walking packages available so visit our monthly rates page for more information.

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