The Importance of Regular Dental Cleanings for Cats and Dogs

Do cats and dogs need dental cleanings?

Well, the simple answer is….YES…they most certainly do!! Dog opening its mouth wide

Many of us dislike visiting our dentist and are hesitant to bring our pets in to get their teeth cleaned or evaluated by a veterinarian. What we don’t realize is that just like humans, dogs and cats need regular dental evaluations and teeth cleanings to keep their oral cavity clean and prevent periodontal disease.

It is estimated that about 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some form of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is the most common disease in dogs and cats and is caused by bacteria located on the teeth and the surrounding tissue (periodontium). Most dental disease occurs below the gum line. This is why it is so important to have your veterinarian perform regular oral exams and regular professional dental cleanings. Your veterinarian will be able to give you an idea of what stage dental disease your pet has.

Please click here to review the American Veterinary Dental College’s (AVDC) stages of dental disease.

When left untreated, periodontal disease can cause the release of bacteria into your pet’s bloodstream leading to diseases of the organs like the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys as well as complications for diabetic patients and pets with other concurrent disease processes. These diseases can often worsen with the constant presence of bacteria flooding the bloodstream due to inflammation of the periodontium.

How often should we get our pets teeth professionally cleaned?

The typical recommendation is every 6 months to 1 year and regular brushing between professional cleanings. Regular brushing must be performed every day or at least three times a week for it to be effective.

You may also use dental hygiene chews, cleansing wipes and rinses on the days you cannot brush your pet’s teeth. Please ensure you pick products with the VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council) seal of approval on them. Your veterinarian will be happy to recommend reputable products for your pets

If you do not know how to brush your pet’s teeth, ask us for help and we can show you!

Why does my pet have to have anesthesia to get his teeth cleaned?

Anesthesia is required to be able to give your pet the best possible care. Under anesthesia we are able to probe each tooth, take dental x-rays and evaluate your pet’s teeth completely.

There is mention of “awake dentals” or “anesthesia-free dentals” which is highly advised against for the simple reason that it provides no benefit to your pet, it provides no evaluation of dental disease below the gum line and is stressful and dangerous for your pets. It, in fact, gives you a “false sense of security” as stated by the American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) since the teeth look whiter but may not be healthy beneath the gum line.

Please see the AVDC position statement regarding anesthesia-free dentals.

In honor of National Dental Month, Crossroads Animal Care Center is offering $50 off your dog or cat’s dental cleaning and 10% off all dental products for the months of February and March. Please call our hospital at 703-497-7387 to set up your pet’s dental pre-anesthetic exam today!