Regular brushing of our teeth, along with the rest of our oral health routine, is almost certain to be second nature to us as humans. In fact, it was probably only a few hours ago that you last brushed your teeth. A big part of keeping our mouth as healthy as possible is getting a professional cleaning as part of our routine dental treatment, and just like brushing, professional cleaning is very important to our pets too.
Without having their teeth cleaned on a regular basis, animals can quickly and easily begin to develop dental issues. While tooth decay is rare, gum disease is extremely common in animals. Just like on humans, dental plaque starts to form on your pet’s teeth. This is caused by the bacteria in the mouth reacting with the sugars in food that they eat to create a clear, sticky coating.
Gum disease is caused by this plaque spreading onto the gums, causing irritation and possibly infection. Without treatment, periodontal disease can become more serious leading to painful abscesses and even tooth loss. If not treated and allowed to get to a more advanced stage, it has even been linked to serious conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. With statistics showing that 1 in 3 dogs will suffer from periodontal disease by the age of 3, keeping on top of their oral health, and treatment of any gum disease is essential.
While routine tooth brushing for our pets at home is invaluable and should be carried out as often as possible (remembering to use veterinary toothpaste, human toothpaste is toxic to animals) professional cleaning is a much more thorough procedure. Despite our good intentions and best efforts, there will always be limitations to how well we can clean our pets’ teeth, so periodic professional cleans are essential to keep our pets’ mouths as healthy as possible.
For animals, professional dental cleaning can initially be a stressful experience. After all, unlike us, they aren’t used to having dental treatment. For this reason, your pet will be given a general anesthetic which will help keep them calm and reduce their stress levels. A general anesthetic is also needed for the safety of the practitioner carrying out the procedure and the animal itself, to protect the vet from being bitten, and to protect the animal from mouth damage from instruments if they suddenly bite down.
Once your pet is under the effects of the anesthetic, your vet or hygienist will begin, using specialized tools designed to remove plaque from around the teeth. Additionally, if there is any tartar present (a harder form of plaque) this will also be removed. Tartar is too hard to remove using a normal toothbrush and requires the special tools used by a skilled and experienced practitioner.
Once the procedure is complete and your vet is happy that the teeth have been cleaned to a high standard, with all plaque/tartar removed, your pet will be woken from their anesthetic and taken to recovery for the effects to wear off significantly before you take them home.
All animals are different, and while there’s no golden rule as to how often you should take your pet for a clean, it is generally recommended that your pet should have a professional dental clean once a year. However, if your pet is having any recurring oral health problems, more regular cleaning may be recommended. Always follow the guidance provided by your vet.
For more information on professional dental cleanings for pets, please speak to our friendly veterinary team at Kankakee Animal Hospital in Kankakee, Illinois at (815) 332-0600 today.