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How To Know When Your Pet Needs A Dental Cleaning

Eighty-five percent of all pets have periodontal disease by the time they are 3 years of age.

  • Dental disease can result in bad breath, painful chewing, and tooth loss.

  • Bacteria under the gum can travel to the heart, kidneys, and liver.

  • A professional dental cleaning is required to remove plaque and tartar from a pet’s teeth and to assess the health of the mouth.

  • A thorough dental cleaning requires that the pet be under anesthesia.

What is periodontal disease?

 Periodontal disease is a progressive disease of the supporting tissues surrounding teeth and the main cause of early tooth loss.

 Periodontal disease starts when bacteria combine with food particles to form plaque on the teeth. Within days, minerals in the saliva bond with the plaque to form tartar, a hard substance that adheres to the teeth. The bacteria work their way under the gums and cause gingivitis — inflammation of the gums. Once under the gums, bacteria destroy the supporting tissue around the tooth, leading to tooth loss. This condition is known as periodontitis. Gingivitis and periodontitis make up the changes that are referred to as periodontal disease. The bacteria associated with periodontal disease can also travel in the bloodstream to infect the heart, kidneys, and liver.

A professional veterinary dental cleaning is the only way to remove tartar from the teeth and under the gum tissue to protect your pet’s health. With a professional dental cleaning and follow-up care, gingivitis is reversible. Periodontal disease is not reversible, but diligent at-home dental care and regular veterinary cleanings can slow down the progression of the condition.

How Do I Know if My Pet Needs a Dental Cleaning?

Regular inspection of your pet’s mouth is important to catch dental disease in the early stages. Tartar may appear as a brownish-gold buildup on the teeth, close to the gumline. Redness or bleeding along the gumline may indicate gingivitis. Other signs of dental disease include:

  • Bad breath

  • Drooling

  • Pawing at the mouth

  • Difficulty chewing

  • Loose or missing teeth

 What Is a Dental Cleaning?

During a dental cleaning, plaque and tartar are removed from a pet’s teeth, and the health of the entire mouth (tongue, gums, lips, and teeth) is assessed. A thorough dental cleaning can be accomplished only while the pet is under general anesthesia. Anesthesia keeps your pet free of pain during the dental procedure and allows your veterinarian to fully inspect the teeth and remove tartar from under the gums.

A dental cleaning may include the following:

    • Removal of visible plaque and tartar from the teeth

    • Elimination of plaque and tartar from under the gum

    • Probing of dental sockets to assess dental disease

    • Polishing to smooth enamel scratches that may attract bacteria

    • Dental radiographs (X-rays) to evaluate problems below the gumline

    • Removal or repair of fractured or infected teeth

    • Dental charting so progression of dental disease can be monitored over time

    • Inspection of the lips, tongue, and entire mouth for growths, wounds, or other problems

What Are the Benefits of a Dental Cleaning?

A professional dental cleaning removes not only the visible plaque and tartar on the teeth surfaces but also the bacteria under the gums. This eliminates potential sources of infection to the mouth and other organs and protects your pet from pain and tooth loss.