Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Q: Professional Teeth cleaning every year?

Dr. Schaeberle,

My neighbor has her dog’s teeth cleaned every year. Is it really necessary to get it done that often?



Dear Matt,

Some dogs and cats do need to get their teeth cleaned yearly. Others don’t need it that often, and I’ve even seen some that have great teeth their entire lives and never need to have them cleaned. You need to make that decision with your
veterinarian at your pet’s annual wellness exam.

There are many advantages to getting your pet’s teeth cleaned frequently. One of the most important is that you can add one to three years to your pet’s life expectancy, and wouldn’t we all love to have our pets with us for as long as we can! Another more obvious reason is to help control bad breath or halitosis. A lot of times that smell is coming from an infection in the mouth, known as gingivitis or periodontitis. Antibiotics, teeth cleaning and sometimes extractions will help clear that up.

Getting your pet’s teeth cleaned and polished regularly will also help prevent advanced gingivitis and periodontitis that can become very painful to your pet. It is not at all uncommon for my clients to report back to me after a dental cleaning and extraction of infected teeth that their pet is more playful and active and eating better.

I know it costs a few extra dollars to get their teeth cleaned often, but it will also save you a lot of money in the long run. Once the teeth start decaying, and your veterinarian has to take x-rays and extract those infected teeth, the cost can really escalate.

My advice would not be complete if I did not emphasize the importance of brushing your pet’s teeth multiple times a week (daily if possible), too. You can all stop laughing now, but I think you realize how important this is. And yes, I know that some pets – ok, a lot of pets – won’t let you do it. But the more you keep trying, the better the chance they may eventually let you do it. Getting them started as puppies and kittens is always the best way. Ask your veterinarian or one of their nurses how to brush your pet’s teeth.

By having your pet’s teeth cleaned regularly, you help them live longer, prevent a lot of pain and discomfort, and save yourself a lot of money while you’re at it. Just imagine if you never brushed your teeth and didn’t go to the dentist for several years!

Talk to your vet about this at your next visit. Your pet will love you longer for it.

Thomas Schaeberle, VMD

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