It boils down to three main things:

1. Oral hygiene is as important for your pet as it is for you.
That means that your dog or cat is at risk of developing periodontal disease if they don’t have consistent oral hygiene at home. And to clarify before we move on, ‘periodontal disease’ is basically an infection that has extended below the gumline into the tooth socket resulting in bone loss. Ouch!

Brushing is the best way to maintain oral hygiene. Every day! Or at minimum every other day. The unfortunate reality is that there are a number of reasons why this is unrealistic for most pet owners. If you are in the statistically estimated 2% of pet owners who can actually accomplish tooth brushing every day, congratulations! If you are with 98% of the rest of us, you need other tools to get the job done. Oral hygiene can be accomplished with chewing and rinsing products as well. The Veterinary Oral Health Council is an organization founded by veterinary dentists to hold companies’ label claims under a magnifying glass to help consumers know which products have scientific proof of safety and efficacy and which ones don’t. Visit their website to learn more.

2. Anesthesia is necessary to provide professional dental care in animal patients.
Here is a link to a website and an article with more information. Rather than harp on this indisputable fact, we want to give you the knowledge you need to be sure the veterinarian you choose to provide dental care to your beloved companion will give them the safest anesthesia possible. This includes:
  • Pre-anesthetic physical examination, bloodwork, and urinalysis
  • Intravenous catheter for IV fluid therapy and emergency access
  • Continuous monitoring and support by a dedicated (to this task only!) licensed veterinary technician utilizing equipment to track
    • Heart rate and rhythm (ECG)
    • Respiratory rate
    • Oxygen Saturation
    • Blood pressure
    • Temperature
What’s more, repeating this procedure on a regular basis is actually safer and more cost-effective than waiting several years in between procedures. A prophylactic dental cleaning is a short procedure that can be accomplished efficiently. When there is an extensive infection present, oral surgery is necessary to resolve the problem. The need for oral surgery increases the duration of anesthesia as well as the cost and risk for your pet.

3. Oral pain is a condition that negatively affects quality of life.
Oral pain is poorly communicated by dogs and cats. The outward signs they may show are typically subtle or completely lacking. This may be hard to believe, but put yourself into your pet’s “shoes.” If you had a toothache and could not say so, how would you show it? Would you stop eating? Would you stop playing your favorite games? How bad would the pain have to be for someone to notice? To be certain your pet is not suffering silently with an injured or infected tooth, a thorough oral exam should be performed by a veterinarian at least once per year.