Your pet’s dental health is as important as your own, and one of the best ways to care for their dental health is to schedule regular professional dental cleanings, along with establishing an at-home dental care routine. Every pet is unique, so the recommended frequency of their dental cleanings will vary depending on different factors and what stage they are in their life. Our team at Village Animal Hospital shares the factors that can help determine the most appropriate timeframe for your pet’s dental cleanings.
Why is dental health important for pets?
Dental disease is a progressive, inflammatory condition that attacks gum tissue, tooth roots, and the surrounding bone. Many people know from experience how tooth and gum problems make life miserable, and the same goes for pets. Dental disease affects more than your pet’s mouth and, if left untreated, can lead to serious kidney, heart, and liver conditions.
What does a professional pet dental cleaning include?
Regular professional cleanings, combined with an at-home dental care routine, are the best way to protect your pet from the potentially devastating consequences of dental disease. Anesthesia is essential for a safe, thorough, pain-free oral exam and cleaning, and allows our veterinarian to:
- Ensure your pet’s comfort, relaxation, and stillness
- Prevent debris from entering their airway
- Protect our veterinary team from bites or injury
- Access the entire oral cavity
- Take dental X-rays
- Clean below the gumline where periodontal disease lives
- Perform uncomfortable procedures
During the procedure, your pet’s teeth are thoroughly examined, cleaned, and polished, and a fluoride treatment is applied. Damaged teeth that cannot be saved are extracted, which should relieve a great deal of the pain your pet may be feeling. Your pet is closely monitored throughout the cleaning to ensure their comfort and safety. Most pets recover quickly from their dental cleanings and are ready to return to their families within a few hours.
How often do pets need professional dental cleanings?
Most pets require an annual dental cleaning starting between 2 and 3 years of age. However, some may need more or less frequent cleanings depending on such factors as:
- Age — Older pets have experienced years of wear and tear on their teeth, leaving them more susceptible to plaque accumulation, which quickly hardens into cement-like tartar. Older pets are also more likely to develop oral masses and cancer that can cause dental problems.
- Breed — Small pets and brachycephalic breeds with flat faces and small mouths are prone to tooth overcrowding and other dental issues. These pets typically need biannual dental cleanings, starting at 6 months of age.
- Health — Certain inflammatory and autoimmune diseases can result in your pet developing gingivitis and dental disease much more quickly, requiring more frequent cleanings.
- Dental care routine — Pets who don’t have an at-home dental care routine are more likely to develop dental problems. By staying consistent with at-home dental care, you can reduce the necessary frequency of your pet’s dental cleanings.
How can you keep your pet’s teeth healthy between cleanings?
You can maintain your pet’s dental health in between their professional cleanings by developing a consistent dental care regimen. Keep your pet’s teeth healthy between cleanings by:
- Brushing daily — Brushing your pet’s teeth every day—twice a day if you are feeling ambitious—greatly reduces the accumulation of plaque because once plaque hardens, it’s nearly impossible to remove with brushing alone.
- Providing dental chews — Appropriate dental chews are a great way to improve your pet’s dental health. Pets enjoy having something to chew on, and the chews can help slow the development of dental disease by scraping away plaque. When choosing chews and other dental products, look for the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s (VOHC) seal. VOHC-approved products have proven their ability to slow plaque and tartar accumulation.
- Avoiding bones and antlers — Hard items, such as hooves, antlers, and bones, can wear down your pet’s enamel or fracture their teeth.
A consistent at-home dental care routine and regular professional cleanings can greatly reduce your pet’s risk of dental disease while keeping their mouth fresh and clean. Contact our Village Veterinary Hospital team to schedule your pet’s dental care appointment.
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