A primary focus of good veterinary services is on preventative care–helping owners maintain their pet’s good health through a variety of ways. This includes regular veterinary examinations, vaccinations, flea, tick, and heartworm medications and, of course, dental care.

Pet Teeth Cleaning

Animal dentistry is a critical part of basic veterinary services because it not only helps to establish and maintain a pet’s good oral health but also their overall health. Like their human counterparts, pets can develop general health problems as a result of oral health issues (and vice versa). When bacteria are allowed to build up in the mouth and on the teeth and gums they can cause a deterioration of oral tissue, causing lesions and other sorts of mouth sores. Toxins and bacteria can then enter the bloodstream and invade the body, causing major health issues. If bacteria are able to enter the heart valves or heart a serious condition known as bacterial endocarditis can develop. Oral bacteria can also cause kidney damage and joint problems. Not to mention the fact that gingivitis, cavities, loose teeth, and root exposure are very uncomfortable. Fortunately, routine checking of the teeth, gums, and oral cavity, as well as professional dental cleanings performed by a dentist, can help to protect or restore a pet’s oral and general health.

Veterinary dental cleanings are always performed with the pet under anesthesia–for both their comfort and safety as well as the safety of the veterinarian. Your veterinarian will run routine blood tests to ensure everything is normal and there aren’t likely to be any complications as a result of administering anesthesia. Your veterinarian will then tell you to abstain from giving your pet any food or water for roughly twelve hours before their morning appointment, a point that is so critical to your pet’s safety while under anesthesia that should you accidentally feed them during the fasting window you should call and tell your vet so the appointment can be rescheduled.

In some cases, your veterinarian may choose to administer a pre-anesthetic sedative to help relax your pet prior to general anesthesia being administered. The anesthesia your veterinarian chooses will largely have to do with the size and health condition of your pet, as their safety throughout the procedure is of top importance. Their vital signs will be closely monitored while they are under sedation to ensure they are receiving a safe level of anesthesia.

Using an ultrasonic instrument, the veterinarian will clean the plaque from the teeth. This is followed by a sort of light buffing that works to polish the teeth. Where necessary, a root canal may be performed or a tooth may be capped in order to address decay and prevent it from spreading. This may seem unusual for pets, but your veterinarian may determine that these actions are vital in order to save a tooth that would otherwise be very inconvenient or uncomfortable for your pet to be without. In some cases, your veterinarian may determine that the best course of action is to remove a severely damaged or diseased tooth. Fortunately, pets do not receive tooth replacements–once the gum has healed after tooth removal the pet rarely acts as though he even recognizes the loss.

Once the dental procedure is completed the pet is moved to a safe, comfortable location in order to recover from sedation. Their recovery is closely monitored, and when the veterinarian is certain that they are doing well they will be sent home with any necessary care instructions. Where appropriate your pet may need to be given antibiotics, though this is usually rare.

Checking In

Your veterinarian will check your pet’s oral health as part of their annual wellness examination, but if you ever notice that their breath smells foul or their teeth look unhealthy, go ahead and check in with your veterinarian. Catching oral health issues earlier on and mean less discomfort for your pet and less worry for you.