The Ins & Outs of Dental Health For Your Pet

Dental Dog

Published on: January 29, 2020

Dental home care is a very important part of routine tooth health.  However, if your pup has even moderate amounts of tartar on her teeth, tooth” brushing will not resolve the problem.  At that point, there is a much greater benefit to allowing your veterinarian to “scale” the teeth.  Thick tartar is difficult to remove.  When a veterinarian performs a dental, an ultrasonic dental scaling instrument is used so tartar can be removed without hurting the gums.  Speaking of hurting the gums, the dental tartar on teeth can lead to gum disease and eventually a tooth abscess, which can be the cause of bad odors coming from a dog’s mouth.

Cats usually start needing dental cleanings around the age of 5 or 6.  Cats don’t often allow you good visual inspection of their mouths, and even if only minimal tartar is present, cats can be hiding painful conditions like feline resorptive lesions.  Since our kitties can’t tell us “ouch”, sometimes the dental cleaning is the best inspection a cat has of its mouth all year.

A dog’s age does not prevent it from getting a dental.  In fact, older dogs usually have tooth problems that necessitate having a dental cleaning, and in some cases additional dental procedures for diseased teeth.  In the case of chewing food and spitting it out, some dogs will have tooth root infections or fractured teeth that may be causing pain and the spitting out of food you are seeing.  Testing liver and kidney values and listening to the heart prior to anesthesia are critical to ensuring it is safe for older patients to undergo anesthesia necessary to perform a dental cleaning.  Testing prior to anesthesia, providing intravenous fluids during anesthesia, as well as monitoring vitals such as blood pressure and oxygen saturation of the blood (pulse oximetry) are very important measures to ensure your pet has a safe anesthetic procedure.

I strongly recommend having your veterinarian assess your pet’s dental health. It’s never too late to start a good habit!

— Jason Robinson, DVM