“Anesthesia-Free” has a nice ring to it, right? Unfortunately, it isn’t as nice as it sounds. In order to benefit the patient, a dental cleaning must accomplish a level of cleaning not possible without anesthesia. So, what must a cleaning entail? Not only should you remove the calculus and plaque visible to the naked eye, but you must remove the tartar and bacteria beneath the gumline. It’s the tartar and plaque here that actually cause periodontal disease, and lead to further infection, tooth loss, and bone loss. When you only remove the tartar and plaque above the gum, you only make it look pretty for a little bit, but don’t provide any lasting benefit to the patient.
Beyond cleaning, a complete dental procedure should involve x-rays of each tooth and its root, as well as full inspection of each tooth (all 42 of them if you’re a dog, and 30 if you’re a cat!) to evaluate for pockets of bone loss, disease, fractures, or tooth defects. This is also not possible with even the most patient, tolerant dog or cat fully awake, not to mention it would be scary for the patient!
Since we need the anesthesia to perform an adequate dental procedure, we also need to make it as safe as possible. Anesthesia performed appropriately by well trained professionals carries minimal risk to the patient. At Newaygo Veterinary Services, each medication protocol is tailored to the individual patient. Bloodwork prior to anesthesia alerts our anesthesia team to any disease the dog or cat may be dealing with that may interfere with the anesthesia. Intravenous fluids support the patient’s blood pressure and allows for instant access should any interventions needs to be made. Continuous monitoring of vitals during the procedure, as well as rigorous monitoring before and after the procedure alerts our team to any complications the dog or cat may be experiencing.
In short, not only is anesthesia absolutely required for a proper dental cleaning, but is quite safe when done appropriately.
When we talk about dental health one of the most common questions that pet owners ask is, "What products should I use to help with my pets' dental health?" As a veterinary profession we want to make sure we are giving recommendations on products that have been proven effective. With that being said, we feel confident in recommending any product that has the VOHC seal on it.
VOHC stands for Veterinary Oral Health Council. The Veterinary Oral Health Council was made to review the data from trials conducted on products according to VOHC protocols, and those products are then awarded the VOHC Seal of Acceptance. Any product that has the VOHC seal has met the Veterinary Oral Health Council's standards for effectiveness in controlling plaque and/or tartar when used as directed.
*Plaque is the soft, bacteria-rich layer that rapidly forms on the surface of the teeth as a result of poor dental hygiene. The bacteria in mature plaque are the cause of gingival inflammation that starts the periodontal disease process.
*Tartar is the calcium salts secreted in saliva that are deposited on the surface of the teeth as a hard substance (calculus or tartar) that is resistant to removal by chewing or brushing. Tartar provides a rough surface that enhances development of plaque, and is an exacerbating factor in development of periodontal disease.
Below is a list of products that have met the VOHC standards for effectiveness.
Accepted Products for Dogs:
Accepted Products for Cats:
I brush and floss twice a day, but what about my dog’s and cat’s teeth?
There are many ways that you can help care for your pets’ dental needs at home.
The first and most effective option is brushing your pets’ teeth. This is much easier than it sounds! To start, you will need a pet friendly toothpaste; enzymatic toothpaste is the best product to brush pets’ teeth with. It differs from human toothpaste because the enzymes break the tartar down for you, rather than contact time required when humans brush their teeth. Get your pet used to the toothpaste by first giving a small portion as a treat, then work on applying it to the outer surfaces of the teeth. You can use your finger to get the toothpaste on their teeth, or there are other options such as a tooth brush, an exfoliating glove, or a finger toothbrush. Your veterinarian may guide you on where to focus your efforts, depending on your pets’ unique mouth.
Different foods can be helpful in cleaning your pets’ teeth. One of the highest quality foods for dental care is Hill’s T/D. Quality dental diets have differently formulated kibble that helps clean below the gumline and minimize plaque and tartar. This can work nicely with treats that are formulated to care for teeth. Dental treats such as Greenies, VeggieDent, HealthyMouth Treats, and DentaLife treats are all great options. These are usually given daily to help prevent tartar buildup.
Another convenient option is a cleansing wash that you can put into the water that acts like a mouthwash. Water additives can be one of the easiest things to do for your pet’s mouth, and can help improve breath.
Maintaining your pets’ teeth at home can help prevent more tartar building on their teeth. You can use as many of these options as you’d like to provide excellent oral health for your pet. The best thing to do is have your pet’s teeth cleaned 1-2 times per year, and then maintain them with any of the above methods: brushing, OraVet, food, treats, or rinses. See our post next week about how to select effective products for your pet’s mouth!
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Newaygo, MI 49337
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