We want your pet to live a long, healthy, pain-free life with all her adult teeth until an advanced age. Excellent dental health is a critical part of helping make this happen for pets.
Just like in humans, periodontal disease is painful, causes tooth loss and bad breath, and it floods the rest of the body with harmful bacteria and inflammatory factors that can cause disease in a distant part of the body (kidney, liver, heart disease, and bone).
Ten years ago, few folks were paying much attention to their pets’ teeth. We started offering non-anesthetic dental (NAD) cleanings for our patients with early dental disease, as well as comprehensive anesthetic dental procedures. NADs have been a successful and popular segue to start the conversation about oral health in our patients.
However, after much research, the American Animal Hospital Association and the American Veterinary Dental College have come out against NAD cleanings because of the procedure’s limitations and the misunderstanding of what these procedures can do (or not do) for pets’ oral health.
Plaque and tartar removal
Removal of plaque and tartar is the most common treatment recommended and performed for the treatment of periodontal disease. To be effective, it requires that tooth surfaces under the gums (subgingival) are thoroughly cleaned.
Removing tartar than can be seen with the eye – while making teeth pleasing to look at – is ineffective at treating periodontal disease and preventing tooth loss.
And, because more than 60% of our pets’ teeth are under the gum line, dental X-rays are an important part of good dental care. NAD cleanings do not allow us to do dental X-rays and may cause us to miss tartar under the gum line (causing bone and potential tooth loss), dental pocketing, and tooth root abscesses that are starting to form.
What happens during an anesthetic dental procedure?
During a comprehensive anesthetic dental procedure, a pet rests comfortably without fear, pain, or restraint. Their airway is protected, they are breathing 100% oxygen, receiving IV fluids for blood pressure support, and we’re monitoring their vital signs carefully (oxygen and carbon dioxide saturation, heart rate, EKG, body temperature, and blood pressure).
Our doctors probe every tooth, look down the throat and under the tongue for signs of trouble, and take complete oral X-rays of the teeth and jaws.
We thoroughly clean every tooth – including under the gums where the trouble starts – and address any issues right away.
The risk of anesthesia in healthy or minimally compromised patients is very low when performed by trained individuals. Routine dental procedures are fast, lowering risk even further.
“But Doc, aren’t dental procedures expensive?”
Yes, they can be, but they don’t have to be. It’s the dental extractions of diseased teeth that cost the most – firstly to your pet, and then to your wallet.
It is our goal to never again have to extract a tooth due to periodontal disease (removing a single fractured tooth from a naughty young pup who’s chewed on a rock is an exception). Truly! Next to euthanasia, extractions are our least favorite thing to do, yet we have to do them Every.Single.Day. Extracting teeth is a real bummer.
The importance of daily home dental care
Properly caring for your pet’s teeth with daily home dental care is the gold standard. It’s inexpensive and takes only a few minutes a day.
Let us show you how to do it properly so your time is well-spent. And with proper training and technique, along with the right flavor of pet toothpaste (fluoride and xylitol-free), pets can learn to love the few minutes of your undivided daily attention.
Good ways to save money on routine, comprehensive anesthetic dental procedures
We offer affordable Wellness Plans that include discounted routine comprehensive anesthetic dental procedures. Our Wellness Plans allow you to spread the cost over an entire year without interest.
In addition, you can join our free Care Coins Loyalty Rewards Program and earn credit towards future dental care for your pet.
Our last NAD is scheduled for December 7, 2019. We’d be thrilled if, after reading this article, no one showed up because the pets were re-scheduled for a comprehensive anesthetic dental procedure and their people asked about how to perform daily home dental care.
We’ve been contemplating this change for a year, knowing that some of our clients will be disappointed. But please know that your pet’s health is at the heart of this decision. It’s time for a change to a higher quality of medicine for all our patients.