Dental care is amazingly important for pets and regular, thorough cleanings are a must. Over the years, this process has gone from hand scaling with partial anesthesia to ultrasonic scaling, polishing, full radiographs and general, monitored anesthesia. Cleaning a gross mouth and removing the terminally diseased teeth is very rewarding. We know how much better the pet will feel!
Here is my favorite story: A terrier mix dog came to see us years ago with dental odor even though it had a “cleaning” the week before. This dog was a pistol and would let us examine her mouth only very quickly! The odor was obviously present but the teeth did not seem too dirty. We anesthetized this dog and cleaned the mild amount of tartar. Dental radiographs were still new in the veterinary market but we had recently purchased our first machine. A set of full oral radiographs were taken and severe, irreversible periodontal disease and tooth root abscesses were discovered. The odor was from disease below the gum line. This dog needed all her teeth extracted! No client wants to get the call that their pet needs a full mouth extraction. Cost is always a concern but people are generally worried about how their pet will do without their teeth. She was discharged that day with antibiotics and pain meds. At her 2 week follow up she was happy to let me look into her mouth! Her owner said she was grabbing ahold of pants legs and pulling like she used to do when she was a puppy!
I have told this story over and over. Dogs do great without their painful, infected teeth. They can’t tell us, nor do they show us clearly, how much pain they are in. We realize it after we remove their pain and they exhibit previous, happy behaviors! (I do want to point out that the previous cleaning was not done improperly but was done before the practice had dental radiography)
-Dr. Paula Schanck