Dental problems are easily prevented with pet dentistry, but if left untreated, they can often lead to larger systemic problems due to oral bacteria entering the bloodstream and damaging the kidneys, heart and liver. Therefore, we strongly recommend comprehensive dental exams and cleanings.
A Comprehensive Oral Assessment and Treatment (COHAT) includes:
- General anesthesia
- Dental radiographs (5-10 views depending on mouth size)
- Measurement of periodontal pockets
- Ultrasonic dental scaling (above and below the gum line)
- Individually sterilized probes, dental burrs and files
While your pet is anesthetized, we probe and chart the periodontal pockets. Calculus on the teeth is removed with an ultrasonic scaler; periodontal pockets are cleaned and flushed and then the clean teeth are polished. Just like with us, up to 40% of oral disease in our pets lies below the gum line. Dental x-rays are an important aspect of preventative dental care. This technology allows us to take a really deep look at the structure of the tooth below the gum line—including the surrounding bone—and plan the most appropriate treatment for your pet.
A word about “Anesthesia Free Dentistry”: We are often asked about “anesthesia free dentistry.” This is touted as a viable alternative to the comprehensive cleaning done under anesthesia. Animals undergoing anesthesia free dental cleanings are often restrained while a staff member scrapes the calculus on the crown of the tooth with a sharp instrument. This is equivalent to holding down a small child to perform a painful procedure. As 40% of oral disease occurs below the gum-line, not only is this a cruel technique, but is ineffective in addressing oral disease and provides a false sense of security that appropriate care is being administered. We would never discount people’s concerns about anesthesia. The truth is that anesthesia in the right hands is very safe. For more information on this, visit the website of Marin’s only board certified veterinary dentist, http://aggievetdentist.com/patient-resources/anesthesia-free-dental-cleaning/.
Home Care: Dental care does not begin or end at our doors. It is also important for you to provide home dental care and recognize the warning signs of dental disease, which include:
- Bad breath—one of the first signs of dental disease
- A yellowish-brown crust of plaque on the teeth near the gum line
- Red and swollen gums
- Pain or bleeding when your pet eats or when the mouth or gums are touched
- Decreased appetite or difficulty eating
- Loose or missing teeth
Please feel free to talk to any of our doctors or staff for instruction on how to properly care for your pet’s teeth!