Despite the fact that most oral health conditions in pets are preventable, dental disease affects 70% to 85% of pets by age 3. Like humans, pets develop plaque and tartar buildup, which can lead to gum disease, inflammation, infections, and tooth loss, if left untreated. So, how can you help your pet defeat this prevalent problem? At Pioneer Animal Hospital, we recommend regular professional dental cleanings for all pets, to keep their mouths in tip-top shape. 

Your veterinary team will perform the professional dental cleaning with your pet under general anesthesia, to ensure their safety and facilitate a comprehensive oral exam. Pets are screened prior to anesthesia to ensure they are good candidates, and are monitored closely throughout their procedure. Are you wondering what happens while your pet is asleep, and why you should invest in your pet’s dental health? Here are five benefits of professional dental cleanings for your pet.

#1: Your pet has an instantly cleaner, healthier mouth

Cleaning the teeth is a main objective of a professional dental cleaning. Plaque and tartar removal results in better breath and improved gum health, and leaves your pet with a clean slate to begin preventive home care. To accomplish this, the following steps are completed:

  • Ultrasonic scaling — The ultrasonic scaler, cooled with a flow of water, uses sound wave vibrations to quickly remove plaque and tartar from large areas. 
  • Hand scaling — Hand instruments remove plaque and tartar below the gum line, and from deep gingival pockets.
  • Polishing — Polishing with an abrasive paste smooths the tooth surface after scaling, and slows future plaque buildup. 

#2: You have peace of mind about your pet’s care

During your pet’s dental cleaning, X-rays and a complete oral examination are performed to leave no stone unturned. Your veterinarian uses these tools to evaluate abnormalities and determine appropriate treatments. Rest assured that once complete, all potential problems have been addressed. Anesthesia is a key part of this process, as these steps cannot be completed safely in a conscious pet. 

  • X-rays — Full-mouth films help your veterinarian see the 60% of the tooth that lies below the gum line, where periodontal disease often lurks unnoticed. X-rays may uncover bone loss, fractures, root abscesses, cysts, or unerupted teeth.
  • Probing — Your veterinarian checks gum tissue depth around each tooth to look for unhealthy, detached gum pockets. Then, these areas are deep-cleaned, and the adjacent teeth fully assessed to determine whether extraction or other treatment is required. 
  • Charting — Your veterinarian will record notes for comparison each time your pet comes in for a dental cleaning. 

#3: Your pet’s pain is reduced and quality of life improved

Loose, fractured, infected, or diseased teeth can cause your pet significant pain. Once your pet’s cleaning, X-rays, and exam are complete, your veterinarian will address these painful conditions by extracting affected teeth, or using local antibiotic gels. You may not realize that your pet was painful until the source is removed, and they become a “new” dog or cat.

#4: Your pet will be happier and healthier

Regular professional teeth cleanings reduce the risk of oral bacteria traveling to your pet’s heart, liver, or kidneys, and causing permanent damage. By protecting your pet’s vital organs, you can effectively add years to their life. Your pet will also have better breath, be able to eat and chew whatever they are given, and feel better overall as they age. 

#5: You will have a plan for your pet’s future dental care

You’ll leave your pet’s dental cleaning with a plan for their ongoing oral care, including when to schedule their next professional cleaning, and how to start an oral home care regimen. Professional cleanings are recommended every 6 to 12 months, depending on the individual patient. Home care should include daily toothbrushing as the mainstay, but two to three times weekly can also be beneficial. Pet owners who find brushing challenging can include alternative products, such as specialized chews, treats, water additives, wipes, or gels, in their pet’s home care. The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) maintains a list of products proven to safely and effectively control plaque buildup, and your veterinarian can recommend the best option for your pet. 

Your pet’s dental health says a lot about their overall wellness, and professional dental cleanings can help them feel their best. Pioneer Animal Hospital offers a full range of pet dental services, so call us to schedule your pet’s next dental exam and professional cleaning, or with any questions about your pet’s dental care.