Pet Oral Exams and Cleanings: More Than Just a Pretty Smile

A dog being given a dental cleaningWhen some pet owners think of dental care, they often assume it’s just a cleaning. However, oral exams entail an assessment of dental and gum health, nutritional or dietary adjustments, and safe dental cleanings, as recommended.

Even the concept of dental cleanings remains somewhat vague. Is it just to produce fresh breath and a whiter smile? Actually, no. Dental cleanings can greatly diminish your pet’s chances of developing periodontal disease, as well as other health complications.

Dental Care is Preventive Health Care

As a pet ages, neglecting dental hygiene can result in dental disease, tooth loss, abscesses, and other secondary health problems. In fact, an estimated 80-90% of all canines and felines over the age of 3 suffer from some form of dental disease. Lack of dental care can also shorten the lifespan of a beloved pet.

Considering the consequences of untreated dental disease, it’s important to create awareness around the necessity of oral examinations and cleanings. But what exactly do these procedures involve, and why are they so critical to keeping teeth and gums healthy?

The Importance of Oral Exams

Oral exams are essential to the health of cats, dogs, rabbits, and other small rodents. During the exam, your veterinarian will assess the condition of your pet’s teeth and gums, which includes looking for evidence of bad breath, loose or broken teeth, inflamed or bleeding gums, and discoloration.

Your pet’s oral exam is also a good opportunity to discuss at-home dental care. This might include brushing your pet’s teeth, adjusting his or her diet, knowing the signs of dental problems, and learning other tactics to prevent dental disease.

For a more accurate diagnosis of oral health, digital x-rays or other diagnostic tests may be ordered. Since there’s a limit to what can be done while your pet is fully awake, anesthesia is often used during a more comprehensive exam.

Anesthesia Assisted Cleanings

When periodontal disease is present or enough plaque and tartar have developed to increase the risk of this disease, dental cleanings are often necessary. This is because an oral condition cannot be treated with tooth brushing alone (although tooth brushing is still required to prevent more plaque from building).

Dental cleanings are performed under anesthesia and are a common procedure at Prairie Ridge Veterinary Clinic. Some owners may be uneasy with the idea of anesthesia assisted cleanings. However, all cleanings are performed safely and are monitored by a veterinarian with the assistance of our skilled technicians.

Dental cleanings and oral exams are the best options for treating and preventing dental disease. As always, we’re committed to enhancing the health and longevity of your pet, and our team is happy to answer your questions. Please contact us to learn more about our approach to dental care.

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