Updated: Nov 8
Just as regular visits to the dentist are crucial for maintaining our own oral hygiene, professional dental cleaning by a veterinarian is a vital component of responsible pet ownership. Our pets can suffer from dental issues that, if left untreated, can have serious consequences, not just for their oral health, but for their overall health and well-being.
The Risks of Ignoring Dental Problems
Chronic pain and discomfort
Neglecting your pet's dental health can lead to chronic pain and discomfort that can be distressing for them. When plaque and tartar build up on their teeth, it can cause gum inflammation, known as gingivitis. Gingivitis is not only painful but can make it painful for your pet to eat or chew toys. As the dental problems progress, it can lead to more severe conditions like periodontal disease, which affects the tissues and structures supporting the teeth. Pets suffering from periodontal disease may experience constant discomfort, and their mouths can become sore and tender. Imagine how challenging it would be for your pet to enjoy mealtime or play with a painful mouth.
Potential systemic health issues
The impact of neglected dental health in pets extends beyond their mouths. Periodontal disease, which can develop from untreated dental issues, is associated with systemic health problems. Harmful bacteria that thrive in the infected gums can enter the bloodstream, potentially leading to more serious health issues. These bacteria can affect the heart, liver and kidneys, increasing the risk of conditions such as endocarditis, liver abscesses and kidney infections. So, neglecting your pet's dental health isn't just about oral discomfort—it can have far-reaching consequences for their overall well-being.
Increased veterinary bills in the long run
Many pet owners may hesitate to invest in regular professional dental cleanings due to concerns about cost. However, avoiding these cleanings can actually lead to higher veterinary bills in the long run. Dental problems tend to worsen over time, and as they progress, they become more complicated and costly to treat. This means that what might have been a routine cleaning and preventive care can turn into a much more involved and expensive dental procedure. By neglecting your pet's dental health now, you may inadvertently be setting yourself up for more substantial financial burdens down the line.
Impact on your pet's quality of life
Perhaps one of the most significant consequences of neglecting your pet's dental health is the impact on their overall quality of life. Imagine not being able to enjoy a favourite treat, play with toys, or even eat without pain or discomfort. Dental issues can lead to changes in behaviour, such as irritability or withdrawal, as your pet struggles with the constant discomfort in their mouth. Their ability to socialise and interact with you and other pets may diminish.
By ensuring regular professional dental cleanings for your pet, you're not just preserving their physical health but also enhancing their happiness and well-being, allowing them to lead a more fulfilling life as your cherished companion.
The Benefits of Professional Dental Cleaning
Professional dental cleaning by a veterinarian offers several significant benefits:
1. A thorough examination
When you take your pet for a professional dental cleaning by a veterinarian, they undergo a comprehensive oral examination that goes beyond what can be seen with the naked eye. This examination includes the use of dental X-rays to view below the gum line. These X-rays are invaluable for detecting hidden dental issues that might not be apparent from a surface inspection alone. They can reveal problems like fractured or abscessed teeth, cysts, tumours and even bone loss. Identifying these issues early allows our vets to create a precise treatment plan tailored to your pet's needs, ensuring that no underlying problems are left untreated.
2. Removal of plaque and tartar
One of the primary goals of professional dental cleaning is the thorough removal of plaque and tartar buildup from your pet's teeth. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth, and over time, it can harden into tartar (also called calculus). Tartar is not only unsightly but also a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. These bacteria can lead to gum disease and tooth decay if left unchecked.
3. Scaling and polishing
After the plaque and tartar have been removed, the next step in the dental cleaning process is polishing. Polishing not only gives your pet's teeth a shiny, smooth surface but also helps to remove any residual bacteria that might be clinging to the teeth. Scaling, which precedes polishing, involves the careful removal of plaque and tartar using precise instruments designed for this purpose. Scaling ensures that every nook and cranny of your pet's teeth is free from debris, leaving them fresh and clean.
4. Tooth extractions when necessary
In some cases, dental issues may have progressed to a point where tooth extraction becomes necessary. This might be due to severe tooth decay, advanced gum disease, or other dental problems that cannot be resolved through cleaning alone. While the idea of tooth extraction may sound daunting, it's a crucial aspect of dental care to alleviate pain and prevent further complications.
Our vets are highly skilled in performing these extractions, and they take every measure to ensure your pet's comfort during the procedure. Removing compromised teeth when necessary is an essential step in restoring your pet's oral health and preventing ongoing discomfort and potential systemic health issues.
When Should My Pet Have Their Teeth Cleaned By a Vet?
Recognising when your pet requires dental cleaning is essential for maintaining their oral health. While routine check-ups with your veterinarian can help determine the state of your pet's teeth, there are specific signs and symptoms that you, as a pet owner, can watch out for:
1. Bad Breath (Halitosis). Persistent bad breath in your pet is a common early indicator of dental problems. It's caused by the accumulation of bacteria and plaque in the mouth.
2. Visible Plaque and Tartar. Check your pet's teeth regularly for visible plaque buildup, which may appear as a yellow or brownish film on the teeth. If you see tartar (hardened plaque) on the tooth surfaces, this is a clear sign that a dental cleaning is needed.
3. Drooling. Excessive drooling can be a sign of dental discomfort. When dental issues like gum disease or tooth decay progress, it can cause your pet to produce more saliva as their body's natural response to inflammation.
4. Difficulty Chewing. If your pet is struggling or hesitating to eat, it may indicate dental pain. Dental problems can make it painful to chew, leading to changes in eating habits.
5. Pawing at the Mouth. Pets in discomfort often paw at their mouths or rub their faces against objects to alleviate pain. This behaviour can signal dental issues.
6. Bleeding Gums. If you notice blood on your pet's toys or food, it may indicate bleeding gums, a common symptom of gum disease. This should not be ignored.
7. Loose or Missing Teeth. Loose or missing teeth can be a result of advanced dental problems and should be evaluated by a veterinarian promptly.
How often should my pet have a professional dental clean?
The frequency of professional dental cleanings for your pet can vary depending on several factors, including their age, breed, dental history, diet and home care regime.
In general, most pets benefit from professional dental cleanings every 6 to 12 months. However, it's crucial to consult with our vets to determine the best cleaning schedule based on your pet's individual needs. To book a COHAT (Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment) please call our friendly customer care team today on (07) 3288 1822.
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