Animal Medical Services
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Animal Medical Services
According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have oral disease by the age of 3. It is the most frequently diagnosed health problem in pets.
A veterinarian should evaluate your pet’s dental health at least once a year. We recommend this because bacteria and food debris accumulates around a pet’s teeth and, if left unchecked, will lead to deterioration of the soft tissue and bone surrounding the teeth. This decay results in irreversible periodontal disease and even tooth loss.
There are other reasons why you should pay close attention to your pet’s dental health. Dental disease can affect other organs in the body: bacteria in the mouth can get into the blood stream and may cause serious kidney infections, liver disease, lung disease, and heart valve disease. Oral disease can also indicate that another disease process is occurring elsewhere in a pet’s body. A physical exam combined with appropriate laboratory work can determine if this is the case.
At Animal Medical Services, we are particularly vigilant about monitoring for and treating dental disease. We have seen many pet’s lives literally changed by proper dental care. Our clients will call us with comments like, “My dog is acting like a puppy again!” If we have recommended dental care for your pet, but you have concerns about the procedure, anesthesia, recovery time or ability to eat if teeth are lost, call one of our staff members. We can discuss the options you have that will address your concerns, such as alternative anesthesia or speeding recovery time with laser therapy. Also see our articles on Dental Disease in our pet care section.
I’ve heard that some clinics offer anesthesia-free dentistry. Is this safe for my pet?
Most pets won’t lie still during a dental cleaning, so there is a strong risk of injuring the pet’s gums and other soft tissue in the mouth. A frightened pet could also bite the clinician.
Even if your pet could be trained to remain completely still for all the scraping and noise of the procedure, his or her teeth need to be cleaned under the gums, where tartar and dental disease can hide. This process is uncomfortable, which is why pets should be anesthetized. Dental, or periodontal, disease begins in the spaces under the gums where the teeth and gums meet. Cleaning just the visible surfaces of the teeth only makes owners feel like their pets’ teeth are clean, when in reality, dental disease is still trapped under the gumline.
Your pet also needs to be ventilated during the procedure. Ventilation keeps your pet’s airway open and keeps tartar from potentially ending up in his or her lungs, where it can actually kill your pet.
The cosmetic cleaning that a pet would get from a non-professional scaling just isn’t worth your money or your pet’s health.
Why does my pet need dental care?
Unless your pet just ate something fishy, stinky breath isn’t normal. Having a veterinarian evaluate your pet’s teeth regularly and clean them as needed will help prevent dental disease and any related problems.