How Often Do Pets Need Professional Dental Cleanings?

You probably last brushed your teeth this morning before you left the house, but when was the last time that you brushed your pet’s teeth? Just like us, animals can develop decay and gum disease if their teeth aren’t cleaned on a regular basis. This is because any sugars found in the food that they eat will interact with bacteria found in their mouth to cause plaque – the sticky, clear film that forms on the teeth.

Although decay isn’t particularly common in animals, periodontal disease is. Also known as gum disease or periodontitis, it occurs when plaque spreads onto the gums and the bacteria found within it cause irritation and infection. Around 1 in 3 dogs will develop periodontal disease before they reach the age of 3, and unless it’s treated, it can lead to a range of debilitating symptoms including tooth loss. Advanced gum disease has also been linked to an increased risk of developing conditions like diabetes and heart disease. One of the best ways to keep your pet’s mouth and teeth healthy is to brush them regularly at home and to take them for professional dental cleanings.

Why are Professional Dental Cleanings Important?

Although you should endeavor to brush your pet’s teeth at home as often as you can (using veterinary toothpaste only, as human toothpaste is highly toxic to animals), even practiced owners can struggle to do a really comprehensive job of cleaning them. A professional dental clean, as the name suggests, is where your veterinarian cleans your pet’s teeth thoroughly. This is done using general anesthetic for the safety of both your pet, so that they remain still, and for the safety of your vet, who doesn’t want to end up losing a finger to an unhappy or distressed animal!

Your vet can also use this opportunity to perform dental x-rays of your pet’s teeth which allows them to visualize any damage or decay that may be happening below the gumline and away from the naked eye. If there are any issues, they can then offer the right treatment to preserve your pet’s oral health.

What Happens During a Professional Dental Clean for Pets?

A professional dental cleaning for an animal isn’t dissimilar to what you can expect when you visit your dentist or hygienist for a cleaning. Special tools will be used to remove any plaque from their teeth, as well as any tartar. Tartar, also called calculus, is hardened plaque that can only be removed using special tools. Your vet will make sure that all traces of both plaque and tartar have been removed and that the teeth are clean and healthy before bringing your pet around from the general anesthetic.

How Often do Pets Need a Professional Dental Cleaning?

Most veterinary dentists recommend that animals have professional teeth cleanings annually. However, preventative care is tailored to the individual needs of each pet, so if yours is having any issues with their teeth or oral health, the frequency of their recommended visits may change. If you are in any doubt, speak to your veterinarian.

For more information about the importance of pet professional dental cleanings, please speak to our dedicated veterinary team at Rocky Ridge Animal Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama at 205.267.1300 today.