Written by Laura Williams, DVM
Did you know that just like humans, our pets should have a dental procedure performed periodically? According to Dr. Laura Williams, DVM, dogs and cats should have their teeth cleaned every 6-12 months starting at the age of 2-3 years old. 80% of pets will be effected by periodontal disease by this age. Obviously, genetics and breed variation play a role in how often teeth cleaning will be recommended, but this is a general guideline. Smaller breeds will need their teeth cleaned more frequently. Overcrowding of teeth in their mouths makes them more prone to periodontal disease. Pets with untreated periodontal disease can have a higher risk of having heart, liver, or kidney issues. If left untreated, it can cause chronic pain, inflammation, and infection of the bone surrounding the teeth. Permanent bone loss and even jaw fracture is possible in some cases. Our fur babies have a much better quality of life when they have a healthy mouth!
It’s also important to understand how imperative it is to have dental radiographs done during a dental procedure. Why? Well, Dr. Laura Williams explains that around 60% of a pet’s tooth is below the gum line, hence the importance of dental radiographs. Dental radiographs help address many things that cannot be seen from the surface such as tooth fractures, retained roots, or impacted teeth, areas of bone loss, resorptive lesions, tumors, tooth root abscesses, and other oral morbidities.
Often times, owners are concerned to have their pet go under anesthesia and choose to have an anesthesia-free dental cleaning done instead. However, the cons of anesthesia-free cleanings far outweigh the pros with the following:
- The pet is often very stressed being restrained when awake.
- Pain cannot be controlled appropriately when they are awake.
- Most periodontal disease lies beneath the surface, so anesthesia free cleanings do not address this. Only supragingival calculus can be removed and the subgingival disease cannot be appropriately addressed through radiographs and cleaning unless they are under anesthesia.
- Anesthesia free cleanings leave the tooth surface roughened since they do not include a full polishing to smooth this surface, so plaque will actually build up faster in the future.
- These procedures are purely cosmetic and do not actually address the root of the issue. Often, painful conditions will go undiagnosed and untreated.
Luckily for our clients at WRAH, we have a board-certified anesthesiologist who will work as a team with the general practice doctor and general practice technicians to formulate the most appropriate anesthesia plan for their pet. We have a high quality monitoring protocol and a caring team that is fully dedicated to making the anesthetic process as smooth as possible.
If you’d like to schedule your pet’s next dental procedure or have further questions, please feel free to contact the General Practice Department at Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital at 303-424-3325.
In addition to Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital, several Ethos hospitals offer veterinary dentistry, learn more about this specialty by clicking the links below!