Proper dental care is just as important to your pet’s health and well-being as things like nutrition, exercise and grooming. Unfortunately, dental hygiene is often overlooked as some pet owners think it’s normal for cats and dogs to have bad breath. Like you and I however, bad breath can mean dental disease!
You might be saying, ‘Surely a bit of plaque can’t harm my pet?’ but you couldn’t be further away from the truth. Plaque is formed from food particles, bacteria, and debris build up at the gum line and under the gums. It accumulates on the teeth and hardens into yellow or brown tartar (also called calculus). Lift up your pets lip and you may see some of this plaque forming on their teeth already, especially towards the back.
Plaque can cause many dental problems, from mild discomfort and bad breath to receding gums, periodontal disease, tooth root abscesses, and loss of teeth – and that’s just the beginning! Nearby blood vessels can carry the bacteria throughout the body where it can damage your pet’s liver, heart, and kidneys. Dental hygiene involves keeping your pets mouth clean in order to prevent these health problems. It’s something you need to do for your pet because they can’t do it properly themselves.
Why does my pet need an anaesthetic to have their teeth cleaned?
A typical pet dental scale and polish includes a full physical exam, treatment and removal of diseased teeth, removal of plaque and tartar, and finally polishing the teeth. Dental work also involves the removal of tartar and bacteria from the teeth above and below the gum line.
While complications can occur with any anaesthestic, it is extremely rare. In fact there may be even worse consequences if you do not look after your pet’s diseased mouth. Remember that dental disease can be a constant source of pain and animals, no matter how well-trained, do not open up their mouth and put up with the noise and discomfort involved with a full scale and polish.
Removing teeth from an animal that is awake is not only dangerous for veterinary staff but is very painful for the animal! It is in the best interest of your pet that they be anaesthetised and kept as free from pain and stress as possible. Together, we’ll weigh the risks of anaesthesia against the risks of allowing the dental disease to continue untreated and make a plan that is best for your pet.
The anaesthetic we use today is very safe. We also have state of the art anaesthetic monitoring equipment and highly trained staff, skilled in monitoring your pet while undergoing an anaesthesia. We can also offer blood tests prior to your pet’s procedure which can show us how the different organs of the body are functioning. This is important information for any anaesthetic procedure. A blood test prior to an anaesthetic regardless of your pet’s age will add that extra safety level.
How do I check my pet’s teeth?
We recommend making an appointment with one of our nurses who will assess your pet’s teeth and come up with a plan with you. If the teeth require a scale and polish we’ll book you in with one of our vets to discuss further. If your pet doesn’t need a scale and polish, our nurses will share with you the best options available to keep them looking that way! There’s a lot of options out there now so we’ll work out the best one for your family and your pet.
Please don’t ignore the bad breath. It could be a sign of something much worse. Get those teeth checked before they cause pain!