Pet Dental Care Myths
At Riverstone Animal Hospital in Canton, GA, we can’t stress pet dental care enough. Cleaning the teeth of dogs and cats is one of the most important services we offer, and something that every pet should experience on a regular basis. However, it’s all too easy for even the most vigilant pet parents to be fooled into thinking that their pet is not suffering from any dental health issues. Most oral problems are hidden out of sight, where only your veterinarian can find them.
Below, we’ll walk you through some of the most common pet dental care myths affecting dogs and cats today.
MY Pet Looks Happy and is Eating Well, so Everything's Fine
Actually, your pet could be extremely uncomfortable; they’re just not showing it. Dogs and cats don’t understand that pain is abnormal, and will generally go about their day without revealing any signs of a problem. This is especially notable with pain that comes on gradually with the onset of dental disease. You are not likely to see them struggling with food or whimpering in pain.
But My Pet's Teeth Look Clean...
Looks can be deceiving. Approximately 60% of the tooth and its supporting structures are below the gum line and therefore can’t be examined without dental X-rays, probing, and anesthesia to keep your pet still. While tartar on the teeth is not a huge concern on its own, it’s the potential inflammation and infection below the gum line that can spell major trouble. These are the issues causing pain, bone loss, and tooth loss in dogs and cats.
I Brush My Pet's Teeth Every Day and Give Them Dental Chews, so They Don't Need a Professional Cleaning
Brushing your pet’s teeth and giving them dental chews certainly benefits their oral hygiene and health, but it still isn’t enough. Just as humans shouldn’t go without regular trips to the dentist, your pet shouldn’t go without seeing their veterinarian for regular teeth cleanings, either. Brushing cleans the teeth above the gum line, but does nothing for the calculus and bacteria hiding below. Additionally, teeth crowding, deep pockets around the teeth, and dental damage caused by chewing cannot be sufficiently addressed with brushing alone.
Dogs and cats should visit their veterinarian at least once a year for an oral exam and teeth cleaning, which includes dental X-rays, scaling, and polishing. For dental procedures, pets are given a light general anesthetic with intubation to ensure their safety. Even older pets can be safely sedated for cleanings.