Why Dental Care is Important

Much attention has been focused on veterinary dentistry in recent years, and research has clearly shown that proper dental care is perhaps the most important thing you can do to add years and quality to the life of your pet.

Dental care is important because:
  1. Mouth infections hurt!
  2. The bacteria associated with gum and tooth disease may lead to infections in the heart, liver, or kidneys.
  3. Tartar buildup and oral infections are believed to be major causes of chronic bronchitis in older dogs.
  4. Periodontal disease ("dirty teeth") results in bad breath, as well as eventual tooth loss.

The Dental Cleaning Process

When your pet receives a professional dental cleaning here at Whetstone Animal Hospital, it includes, but is not limited to:  1) a thorough pre-anesthetic examination, followed by entubation and gas anesthesia; 2) a dental examination, with charting of all abnormalities; 3) plaque and tartar removal by ultrasonic and hand scaling; 4) subgingival curettage (cleaning below the gum line); 5) polishing to reduce the rate of future tartar buildup; and 6) extraction of loose or fractured teeth as needed.

Once these procedures have been completed, the doctor is no longer the most important person in maintaining your pet’s dental health - YOU ARE!  Although we will examine your pet's teeth at each visit, proper home care of your pet’s teeth will decrease the likelihood of serious dental disease in the future.

When we encounter more complicated dental issues, we may recommend referral to the Ohio Veterinary Dental Center in Columbus.  Dr. Prescott is a veterinary dental specialist, and she has the tools and capabilitiy to handle root canals, crowns, oronasal fistulas, and other specialized procedures.

Recommendations for Home Dental Care

Week 1: Acquaint Your Pet with Mouth Care
Using your hand, gently lift your pet's lips and run your finger along the lips and teeth. Do this for about 30 seconds on day one, and progress to about 2 minutes by the end of the week. Go slowly, and use praise to gain their confidence.

Week 2: Introduce a Cleaning Device
This week, use a pet toothbrush, a soft bristle children's toothbrush, or a gauze pad wrapped around your fingertip, dipped in warm water. Brush only the outer surfaces of the teeth at first.

Week 3: Add a Home Care Product
The Doctor can recommend a home care product for your pet; this product may be a toothpaste, a gel, or a spray. Use this product as directed. (Do not use "people" toothpaste, as these products often foam and frighten the animal, and may cause vomiting. Do not use baking soda--the high sodium level is not healthy in older animals.)

Other Home Care Tips
  • Do not rush the process, or your pet may become resistant.
  • Brushing daily is best; 3 times a week is probably adequate. Once a week will not achieve the desired results.
  • Although many of the home care products will help, it is the brushing action which does most of the cleaning.
  • Proper cleaning at home will reduce the frequency (and therefore the expense) of professional care needed.