Dear hoomans,

My toofs don’t feel as good as they used to when I crunch my kibble, and I think one is wiggling a little. The toof fairy visits my tiny humans when they lose a toof, so maybe if it falls out I will get a treat from her? Oh, and the cat gets madder than usual when I yawn in her face. It is kind of funny, but you don’t want my kisses either, and that makes me sad. Butch the bulldog from next door said he took a nice nap at the doggie dentist and woke up with fresh, clean toofs. Can you take me to the doggie dentist so my toofs feel better?

Stinky kisses,

Noodle the poodle

Misconceptions about dental care for pets abound, but for the sake of Noodle and many other pets, we clear them up. 

#1: My pet has dragon breath, but she is eating, so her teeth must be fine

While some pets with dental disease drop food, prefer softer foods, or stop eating entirely, many pets with significant dental problems do not change their eating habits. You wouldn’t wait until eating was almost impossible before going to the dentist, and the same goes for your pet. Regular dental care can remedy issues long before your pet stops eating, almost kills you with her breath, needs to put lost teeth under her pillow for the tooth fairy, or, worse, suffers life-threatening kidney, liver, or heart damage.

#2: Toothbrushing is the only useful at-home dental routine

Daily toothbrushing, which is considered the gold standard for good dental hygiene, will not be feasible for all pets or pet owners. If your pet is the toothbrushing queen, feel free to skip to misconception number 3. Otherwise, take advantage of prescription pet food, water additives, oral wipes, chews, treats, and other dental products that can help reduce plaque buildup when used regularly. Ensure you choose an effective product by consulting our veterinary team, or by checking the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) website for VOHC-approved products, which are the only ones proven to slow plaque and tartar accumulation .

#3: General anesthesia is unnecessary for my pet’s dental cleaning

You can sit calmly in the chair while the dental team takes X-rays and cleans your teeth, but good quality pet dentistry does not follow this model. You can find veterinary hospitals that offer to physically restrain your fully awake pet while they scrape the tartar off her teeth, but this will make the calmest pet anxious, and may be painful. Anesthesia-free cleanings do not allow access to the damaging plaque hidden beneath your pet’s gumline, and may damage the surface of the teeth, where disease-causing bacteria can attach. An awake pet also will not tolerate dental X-rays, which are the only way to evaluate the full tooth, including the 60% that is beneath the gumline, and find damaged teeth or tooth roots that can lead to disease.

Liberty Veterinary Hospital performs dental cleanings only under general anesthesia, because that allows our team to remove plaque above and below the gumline, polish the teeth smooth, take dental X-rays for a complete evaluation, and extract any diseased teeth, if necessary. Meanwhile, your pet stays unaware of what is happening, and will awaken with clean, healthy teeth and a fresh mouth.  

#4: My pet is too old for a dental cleaning

The saying, “Age is just a number,” holds true for dental cleanings. No matter her age, every pet needs an at-home toothbrushing regimen to help prevent painful disease, and professional cleanings. Before we perform a dental cleaning, every pet, whether young or old, will be given a complete physical exam and blood work to ensure she is healthy enough for anesthesia. If the screening reveals any areas of concern, we will do more testing before proceeding. When your pet is cleared, we will develop an individual anesthetic plan, and then carefully monitor her during the procedure and her recovery to ensure her safety and comfort. We are always happy to address your concerns about anesthesia or the actual dental procedure to help you make the right decision for your pet. 

#5: My pet doesn’t need a professional dental cleaning until her teeth are disgusting

Your pet and pocketbook benefit when you schedule your pet’s dental cleaning before significant dental issues arise. Finding your pet’s dental problems early means you can treat or extract her teeth sooner and alleviate her discomfort, prevent serious consequences such as heart, kidney, or liver disease, and improve her overall health, with the added benefit of less cost.

Now that we have cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about your pet’s dental health, are you ready to start a dental-care regimen? Call us to schedule a dental consultation and/or cleaning for your pet.