Just like people, our pets' teeth ideally should be professionally scaled and polished regularly. This procedure not only cleans off the obvious brown tartar that you can see but, more importantly, it cleans underneath the gum line. Scaling underneath the gums reduces painful gingivitis (swollen and painful gums), helps the diseased gums heal, and reduces the worsening of gum recession.
Why does my pet need to be under general anesthesia for a dental cleaning?
The answer is simple: in order to scale and polish all of their teeth at all angles, especially scaling under the gum line, it is impossible to properly do this with the pet awake. Unlike a person in a dental chair, we cannot reason with the pet as to why they need to keep completely still while we put an instrument in their mouth and perform a procedure for a significant period of time that may be uncomfortable for them. Physical restraint is not an option. Even if it were possible, it would require several skilled restrainers. It would be extremely stressful for your pet, and it still would be unlikely that each tooth could be properly cleaned and graded and scaling under the gum line could be done properly. It is also important that they are intubated (a breathing tube attached to an oxygen/anesthetic machine) so they cannot aspirate any fluid into their lungs during the procedure.
Some people have a fear of general anesthesia. At your pet's next annual exam (or any time your pet is in), we encourage you to talk to the veterinarian and/or technicians about precautions and safety procedures we have in place, as well as specific concerns you may have about your pet. It is important to remember that the risk of anesthesia for young, healthy pets is very low.
What are some general tips for caring for my pet's teeth?
- DO use a pet toothpaste
- DO use a soft-bristle toothbrush designed for pets
- DO make it a fun experience for your pet
- DO feed a dental diet where appropriate
- DO check your pet's mouth regularly
- DO ask one of our team members before giving your pet a new dental product
- DON'T feed chews that are too hard (e.g. beef/pork bones, antlers)
- DON'T worry about brushing the inside of the teeth (the tongue side)
- DON'T brush your pet's teeth if their gums are red and irritated
View our own toothbrushing video below for tips: