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Posted on 01-11-2017

Every time I see a patient and do an exam, I look at their teeth. Teeth are incredibly important to be able to chew, eat and play for both dogs and cats. They also are a direct root to the jawbones, which means tooth infection leads to bone infection! Just like us, our pets need dental care at home daily in the form of tooth brushing, oral rinse, water additive, dental treats, or special dental chews. Home dental care works by stimulating gum health, enzymatically removing plaque, mechanically removing plaque, and/or killing the bacteria that cause plaque to become tartar. Of course home dental care only works if you do it, preferably every day! I am in the category of not consistently every day, but my labrador, Jenny, loves anything with flavor, so brushing, rinsing, and chewing are easy with her. 

When the tartar begins to show, and optimally before the gums get red, it is time to bring out the big guns - The Dental Cleaning! If only dogs and cats understood what we were doing and knew how to spit, anesthesia might not be involved. But alas, they don't, so it is. We take every precaution to ensure pets not only survive, but actually thrive through the dental procedure. By doing preanesthetic bloodwork to choose the best medications for them, monitoring them closely, and maintaining good bloodpressure, we encounter very few problems. 

Dental x-rays done either separately or at the time of the dental cleaning can reveal what is going on below the gumline, where a high percentage of disease is hidden. They can also help us monitor the progression of disease and know how best to proceed. 

Daily dental care and dental cleanings when needed can increase a dog's lifespan by as much as a third - so a small dog could live 4 years longer! according to Dr Jan Bellows, a Diplomate of the American Veterinary Dental College. 

Give us a call today if you have questions about your own pet's dental health!

Dr Kristina Gilbert

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