Your furry companion is a very important part of your family, which means that you are deeply invested in ensuring they receive the absolute best healthcare possible. However, you may not recognize that exceptional healthcare for your pets includes regular dental care, just as exceptional healthcare for you includes regular dental care. It is actually not at all unusual for cats and dogs to suffer from at least a mild form of gum disease by the time they are three years of age. Fortunately, just as is the case with humans, gum disease in pets can be prevented or effectively treated and resolved through proper dental care, which includes teeth cleaning and polishing.
Caring for Your Pet’s Teeth
Your pet’s teeth are not unlike your teeth in that every single day they are exposed to many different things that can potentially hurt them–including leftover food particles and harmful oral bacteria. It follows then that in much the same way that you benefit from regular professional teeth cleaning and polishing, so too can your pets. This is true even if you work hard to take care of your pet’s teeth at home and even if your pet permits you to thoroughly brush their teeth every day, because despite our best intentions and efforts as pet owners, we simply lack the skills, tools or expertise that is necessary to thoroughly clean and polish our pet’s teeth.
Prior to cleaning and polishing your pet’s teeth, your pet’s veterinarian will first educate you about general oral health in pets and encourage you to ask any and all questions you may have. He will then perform an initial, brief exam of your pet’s mouth in order to assess their current oral health condition. This will not only allow him to give you a better idea of what sort of treatment and care may be necessary in order to restore or maintain their oral health, but it will open the door to any additional questions you may have.
For your pet’s comfort and safety, they will need to be anesthetized for the teeth cleaning and polishing procedure. In order to ensure that your pet is healthy enough to undergo anesthesia, your veterinarian will first draw and analyze their blood. In some cases, potential problems that are noted during this analysis can be successfully resolved. In other cases, your pet’s veterinarian may need to recommend an alternative method for cleaning their teeth that does not involve the administration of general anesthesia.
While it is understandable that having your pet placed under anesthesia can cause you to feel nervous or worried, rest assured that there are many protocols in place to ensure that the process is safe. Most of the time, local anesthetic is used in a pet’s mouth in order to reduce the amount of general anesthesia that is necessary. This means that while your pet is comfortable and relaxed during the teeth cleaning and polishing procedure, they are also able to recover more quickly once the procedure is over. If you are concerned about your pet’s safety while under anesthesia, you are highly encouraged to discuss your concerns with your veterinarian so that they can set you at ease prior to the procedure.
The teeth cleaning and polishing procedure normally includes:
- A complete oral examination, which may also include full dental x-rays to help determine whether there are any problems occurring beneath the gum line–such as broken teeth and roots, periodontal disease, dead teeth, abscesses or infected teeth.
- Full cleaning under the gum line to resolve any periodontal disease issues that are occurring.
- Scaling (scraping) and polishing of the visible portion of the teeth–known as the crown of the teeth. This scaling and polishing allows for the removal of plaque and calculus buildup on the teeth, and the introduction of a smooth tooth surface that discourages future bacteria, plaque and calculus buildup.
Your pet will be closely monitored as they recover from anesthesia. Once your pet has recovered from anesthesia, they will be able to go home–unless there is an additional procedure to be done (which your veterinarian will discuss with you as necessary). Your pet will be able to eat and perform other activities normally, and you will receive instructions on how to properly care for their teeth at home.
As is the case with humans, preventative dental care for pets, such as regular teeth cleaning and polishing, is often far more comfortable and inexpensive than restorative dental care. For more information about teeth cleaning and polishing, contact La Crosse today.