You love your pet and do everything to support their health. However, well-meaning as you are, you may be overlooking dental health’s importance to your pet’s overall wellbeing. You may not be aware of or understand your pet’s need for oral care, and early dental disease signs can be difficult to identify. In addition, you may believe that your pet’s professional dental care is cost prohibitive. However, by maintaining your pet’s oral health, you actually save money because you prevent your furry pal from needing a costly dental procedure such as a tooth extraction. Our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Jordan Ranch team explains why you must prioritize your pet’s dental health, establishing an at-home and professional dental care routine to ensure your four-legged friend’s overall health and wellbeing.

Why your pet’s dental health matters

Dental problems can affect people and pets, and oral health is as critical for your furry pal as it is for you. Nearly 70% of pets have some form of dental disease by age 3, which can have negative consequences for their overall health, extending far beyond bad breath. By maintaining your pet’s dental health, you can help prevent these serious health issues and keep your four-legged friend pain-free.

How dental disease develops in pets

When your pet eats, bacteria in their mouth combine with food particles to form a sticky film (i.e., plaque) on their teeth. If the plaque is not removed within a few days, the substance hardens into cement-like tartar, trapping bacteria in and around the gumline. Dental disease occurs when the bacteria begin damaging a tooth’s supporting structures, and your pet experiences pain, infection and inflammation, and ultimately, bone and tooth loss. In severe cases, circulating bacteria enter the bloodstream, and permanently damage a pet’s kidneys, liver, and heart. If left untreated, dental disease can become severe and require costly professional treatment. 

You can easily miss your pet’s early dental disease signs, and many do not exhibit signs until the disease has progressed, causing them extreme pain. Bad breath is one potential dental disease indicator, but you should also be on the lookout for other signs, including:

  • Brown or yellow tartar buildup on the teeth
  • Red, swollen gums
  • Broken or loose teeth
  • Excessive drooling
  • Decreased appetite
  • Swallowing food whole, rather than chewing
  • Blood in their water bowl or on toys

To check for dental disease signs, inspect your pet’s teeth and mouth regularly. If your pet exhibits any of these signs, schedule a professional dental evaluation with our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Jordan Ranch team so we can assess your four-legged friend’s dental health. 

The benefits of professional dental care for pets 

While daily at-home toothbrushing and dental treats can reduce tartar buildup on your pet’s teeth, a toothbrush alone cannot reach the bacteria trapped under the gums. To reduce your pet’s dental disease risk and ensure problems are detected before the condition progresses, your veterinarian will examine your four-legged friend’s mouth during their annual wellness visit. Your veterinarian will likely recommend dental X-rays, because this imaging modality shows the 60% of tooth problems that exist under the gumline, which cannot be directly visualized. In addition, your veterinarian also will perform a close examination of your pet’s teeth, and schedule your furry pal’s professional dental cleaning, a procedure they will perform while your pet is under anesthesia. Most pets require professional dental cleanings once per year. However, some pets need more frequent cleanings and specific dental procedures.

Why anesthesia is necessary for your pet’s dental cleanings

Administering anesthesia to your pet is necessary for our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Jordan Ranch team ensure your furry pal experiences no pain or stress while we perform a thorough oral exam, take diagnostic dental X-rays, clean their teeth below the gumline, and extract or treat diseased teeth and periodontal problems. Before performing your pet’s dental procedure, our veterinary team will conduct diagnostic tests to ensure your four-legged friend can safely tolerate anesthesia medications. During your pet’s dental cleaning, they will be sedated and intubated to maintain a clear airway, and to administer oxygen and anesthetic gas. To maintain their blood pressure and hydration status, our team will administer intravenous fluids to your pet throughout the dental procedure. The thought of your pet undergoing anesthesia may concern you, however, always keep in mind that our team takes every precaution to ensure your pet’s safety before, during, and after their dental procedure. 

What your pet’s dental cleaning includes

Once our team has administered your pet’s anesthesia, your veterinarian will use specialized instruments, such as an ultrasonic cleaner, to remove plaque that has mineralized to tartar on your furry pal’s teeth. If dental X-rays show serious tooth root damage, your veterinarian will perform additional treatment, such as tooth extractions. Your pet’s complete professional dental cleaning will include: 

  • Scaling tartar from all tooth surfaces, above and below the gumline
  • Polishing each tooth to remove microscopic etchings the scaling has created, to prevent bacteria adherence
  • Probing the gumline for pockets that indicate periodontal disease
  • Irrigating below the gumline to flush away bacteria and debris
  • Rinsing the mouth with an antimicrobial solution

Professional veterinary dental care ensures your pet’s teeth, mouth, and gums remain healthy, while minimizing their dental disease risk. Schedule your pet’s professional dental cleaning with our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Jordan Ranch team.