the importance of routine dental visits

Scruffy black and white dog with toothbrush in mouth | The importance of routine dental care for pets
Posted by Dr. Rebecca Jackson on May 02 2013

We talk a lot about dental health when we talk about how pet parents can take the best care of their four-legged friends. It might seem a little silly at first, but the tooth, I mean truth, of the matter is that dental health is extremely important to our pets – both dogs and cats.

Even if you are one of the lucky few who are able to stick to a routine of brushing your pet’s teeth twice daily (and let’s be honest, most of us are lucky if we remember to brush our pet’s teeth once a month), this blog is still for you. Just like you and me, even with routine at-home dental care, your pet will need regular oral check-ups with your veterinarian. And don’t be surprised if at one of these check-ups, your vet recommends a dental cleaning. This is your vet’s way of helping you keep your pet as healthy as possible!

What does a routine dental visit involve?

So, what exactly does a routine dental visit entail? It can vary depending on your vet’s preferences and protocols, but the basics are as follows:

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  • Pre-surgical bloodwork
  • Deep sedation or general anesthesia
  • A full oral exam with or without dental X-rays
  • Scaling (this removes the plaque and tartar)
  • Polishing (this fills in microscopic defects in the tooth to help prevent future build-up)

These are the basic steps involved in an uncomplicated routine dental. But let’s be honest. Routine dentals are only a part of the battle.

What to expect

Oftentimes, vets may notice an abnormality (such as a fracture, a cavity, a growth or discoloration) that will warrant further investigation. Sometimes the best option is to extract the tooth, perform a root canal, biopsy or remove the growth, take dental radiographs, etc. Once your vet has your pet under anesthesia, they will be able to fully evaluate your pet’s mouth and determine the best course of action.

Why does dental health matter?

You may be wondering, “Why is it necessary to worry so much about my pet’s oral health?” The answer is threefold:

1. Dental disease is painful – however, rarely will pets stop eating because of mouth pain, so don’t look for this to be a sign.

2. Dental disease affects the overall health of your pet.

3. Preventative dental care, like brushing, is relatively easy!

In Brushing Up on Dental Health, Part 2, we’ll take a look at what your vet might recommend if he finds something during your pet’s dental cleaning.

Find out more about how dog insurance from Petplan covers your pup's dental health.

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