Dental Cleanings: No your vet isn’t joking when they recommend one…pet’s teeth need love too!!!
Your vet tells you your pet needs a dental cleaning, and you think it’s a joke, right? Well you may want to pay attention!!! If you read our previous blogs, you are well aware that periodontal disease can have systemic effects on dogs. This is why dental cleanings are so important to your pet’s health.
Dental cleaning (also known as dental prophy) is routine cleaning of the teeth, just like we have performed at our dentist’s office. It involves that following steps:
- General exam prior to anesthesia
- Oral exam under anesthesia
- Calculus removal
- Subgingival (under the gum) scaling, root planning, and curettage if needed
- Tooth polishing
- Fluoride treatment
- Post dental exam
- Extractions or endodontic therapy if needed
Why does my dog have to be under anesthesia? This is an excellent question. Anesthesia is vital to perform an adequate dental prophy. The portion of the tooth we see is only the tip of an iceberg. What lies under the gums is so much more important. Anesthesia provides immobilization to clean under the gum, provide pain control, and allows us to place a tube into the trachea, so bacteria can not enter respiratory system. Dental cleanings performed awake can cause more damage to the teeth than was present before the dog actually had a cleaning!!! We all know anesthesia has its risks, but we take every precaution to minimize those risks. Preanesthetic bloodwork is run to evaluate the vital organs, our licensed veterinary technicians monitor anesthesia during the procedure, IV fluids are run to maintain blood pressure and provide IV access.
If you think about it logically, having a dental cleaning done once yearly will mean your dog is under anesthesia for shorter period of time, reduced risk of major extractions, and less cost associated with the procedure. If you wait until the teeth are at a Stage 3-4, there is more likely going to be extractions, longer anesthesia time, and the cost will be substantially more. I recommend starting dentals at 1 year of age….let’s keep them looking great!!!
What is the cost of a dental cleaning? Unfortunately, it is not possible to give an estimate until the animal is under anesthesia, and the teeth are individually evaluated. We can give you an initial base price during exam. Once we know if further treatment will be required, we will call you and discuss the associated costs.
Bellows, Jan DVM, DipAVDC. The Dental Care Series: Toothbrushing and Dental Prophylaxis in Cats and Dogs. 2002. www.vin.com.