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Dental Care: Getting Your Dog’s Teeth Cleaned

There is an estimation that 80 percent of dogs have some grade of dental disease by the age of three. In particular, those who haven’t received any form of early dental care. While humans can keep the buildup of plaque at bay by brushing their pearly whites twice a day. Poor Oliver is subjected to the relentless accumulation of plaque throughout his doggy years. As plaque accumulates, it mineralizes, causing the buildup of rough tartar which further attracts plaque, ultimately causing a vicious cycle. As the buildup progresses, the gums soon get inflammations leading to painful periodontal disease, and eventually, tooth loss.

How do you brush a dog’s teeth?

Although not recommended, you can clean your dog’s teeth on your own, with special dog toothpaste and a tooth-brushing kit. Try NOT to use regular human toothpaste for your puppy. In most cases, we generally recommend seeking professional dog dental cleaning services.

Traditional Dental Cleaning

Generally, vets discover periodontal disease during a pet’s routine wellness exam. The vet notices the presence of plaque and tartar as well as the inflamed gums. The smell of the dog’s breath further confirms the problematic dental disease. A few vets may likewise use a diagnostic test strip capable of detecting periodontal infection below the canine’s gum line even before the signs of periodontal disease are visible. The test strip simply changes color upon detecting the early signs of periodontal infections.

Should the vet deem a dental cleaning? actually, running a battery of tests so to determine the dog’s health status. This helps to decide the best anesthetic protocol for the individual dog. When they get all the test results, and not encountered any particular health problems, they scheduled a dental cleaning date. In most cases, they doing a dental cleaning under anesthesia. For dog owners questioning why they need anesthesia, there is a reasonable answer.

Why vets use Anesthesia

While dental visits can easily solve dental problems in humans using local anesthetics. Puppies for obvious reasons cannot stay immobile with their mouths open wide while odd, loud, and generally scary instruments insert into their jaws. Also, vets of course would feel quite vulnerable keeping their hands deep inside Oliver’s mouth! Total anesthesia, in this way, is expected to help keep Oliver calm and immobile, and the vet comfortable and safe.

Once under anesthesia, vets keep the pet warm and carefully monitored vital signs. They examine all tooth surfaces one by one for fractures, wear, and mobility. The vet may take x-rays and apply local antibiotics to infected gum pockets and may perform extractions as needed. The vet at that point cleans the teeth individually using an ultrasonic scaler meant to effectively remove tartar and plaque. A short time later, they clean the teeth and apply a sealant so to lower the chances of plaque re-accumulating. Further dental care will lower the chances of future plaque reforming. The Veterinary Oral Health Council has awarded many puppy dental products a seal of acceptance for helping prevent the formation of plaque.

Unconventional Dental Cleaning

Many dog owners are reluctant to get teeth-cleaning for their dogs because they worry about the use of anesthetics. More and more companies are now offering unconventional dental cleaning options. A leader in this field is Pet Dental Services offering anesthesia-free cleaning under the supervision of veterinarians. but the common question that gets to mind is how can they effectively clean teeth with a pet squirming and being overall uncooperative? According to the Pet Dental Services website their employees use gentle methods and address dogs with the same patience and compassion used to address a frightened child at his first dental appointment.

Of course, not all dogs make ideal candidates for this procedure, but as trust is built, there are claims of dogs becoming compliant and allowing for the dental cleaning to take place. What dogs would benefit from anesthesia-free cleanings the most? The older dogs of course, along with dogs suffering from kidney, liver, or heart disease; basically, all those dogs would normally consider being at risk for a traditional cleaning done under anesthesia.

Evaluating The Options

As much as an anesthetic-free dental cleaning sounds like appealing news, there are always two sides to the story. The American Veterinary Dental College (ADVC) cautions about dental cleanings conducted without anesthesia for different reasons. For starters, they are concerned about safety. Any abrupt movement from the dog could potentially cause oral tissue injury. Not to mention the risk of being bitten if the dog becomes uncooperative and reacts.

On top of that, AVDC claims that it’s quite impossible to evaluate the overall oral status of the non-anesthetized dog. Most of all, it would be difficult to scale hard-to-reach areas such as the inner sides of the teeth and the deeper subgingival area. For obvious reasons, hand-held scalers are needed to replace the noisy, vibrating ultrasonic scalers which are known for doing the job best. It’s also important to understand that despite the great care, the whole experience can cause discomfort, pain, and stress since some dogs just won’t tolerate it. Another source of concern in a dental cleaning is the veterinary management by groomers or technicians operating secretly without veterinary supervision.

So who should perform dental cleanings?

you should know who should take care of dog teeth and how can perform this process.

Board Certified Specialists in Veterinary Dentistry

These folks are veterinary dentists who have specialized and achieved serious training in dental care. Unfortunately, they’re not that easy to come by. While they can perform dental cleanings, they’re mostly sought for complicated specialty work when they do perform dental cleanings, they mostly charge a premium for them.

General Veterinarians

If a dog needs a dental cleaning, most likely the average licensed veterinarian is up for the task. Regular vets are fully qualified to perform oral examinations, dental cleanings and minor procedures such as extractions.They will refer to veterinary dentists though for more complicated affairs such as root canals or oral surgery.

Veterinary Technicians

The AVDC supports the practice of training veterinary methods to perform minor dental procedures for example supragingival scaling and cleaning, taking x-rays, and establishing dental impressions. Registered dental hygienists, dentists, and other health care providers in good standing care are also allowed to perform such procedures as long as they’re conducted under the direct supervision of a veterinarian.

The Bottom Line

So if puppy owners are concerned about anesthesia but don’t want their puppy to undergo a procedure that could put him in danger for injury, potentially ineffective, and on top of that, performed by a non-veterinarian without veterinarian management, what other options are left? Some veterinarians may occasionally do anesthesia-free dental cleanings or have other professionals perform them under their supervision when they deem it helpful. However, it’s important to realize that the risks for anesthesia complications in traditional dental cleanings are minimal with reassuring statistics of 1 reaction in 100,000. That’s less risky than taking Oliver for a car ride to and from the vet’s office, explains veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker!

There no doubt that plaque and tartar do much more than cause bad breath. Affected dogs may be in pain when they chew on toys or eat their food. They may appear cranky or in a bad mood. To top it all off, teeth may release and eventually fall, and in the case of bacterial infections, the bacteria may enter the canine’s bloodstream potentially affecting important organs such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, and liver. Veterinarians should always get consultation for a thorough pre-cleaning examination, evaluation, cleaning, and then post-cleaning care regardless of whether the dental cleaning with or without anesthesia.

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