Can you imagine never brushing your teeth? The idea probably seems distasteful to you, but it’s an unfortunate reality for many pets.
Studies show that roughly 73% of cat owners and 43% of dog owners admit to never having brushed their pet’s teeth. While this may not seem like a serious issue for your pet, poor oral hygiene can lead to periodontal disease, pain and tooth loss. Moreover, the bacteria from dental disease can spread throughout the body leading to systemic health issues and a shortened life span.
If you’ve never given much thought to your pet’s oral health, it’s not too late to start taking care of their teeth. While there are several ways you can help keep your pet’s teeth healthy, daily tooth brushing is the single most effective way to prevent dental disease and associated problems.
The purpose of pet tooth brushing daily is to remove the sticky plaque that develops on the teeth before it hardens and forms into tartar. Unfortunately, once tartar has formed, it cannot be brushed off and will require a professional dental cleaning to be removed.
We are frequently asked about anesthesia-free pet dental cleanings, which have grown in popularity in recent years. This is the practice of performing a dental cleaning on a pet, which involves scaling (cleaning and scraping) the pet’s teeth to the gumline, without the use of general anesthesia.
The popularity of anesthesia-free dentals is mostly due to marketing campaigns that promote the anesthesia-free method as a less expensive alternative to a dental cleaning that is performed while the pet is under general anesthesia. Unfortunately, it is also based on misinformation regarding what is really involved in cleaning a pet’s teeth. Marketers for anesthesia-free dental cleanings also fail to mention that these dentals often make a pet’s oral problems worse and, in many cases, involve abuse and cruelty.
For pet owners seeking to minimize the number of times a pet has to be “put under” with general anesthesia, the anesthesia-free idea may seem like a great option, but the procedure is wrought with many risks and problems that, in our opinion, outweigh any perception of benefit.
It wasn’t too long ago in human history that the idea of brushing a pet’s teeth or having them professionally cleaned was practically unthinkable, and the term “veterinary dentistry” didn’t even exist.
Fortunately for our pets, our knowledge of pet health has come a long way in recent years, and so has the field of veterinary dentistry. We now know that the right combination of home care, good nutrition, professional dental cleanings and exams can keep your pet healthy, pain free, and even extend his or her life. Continue…