Did you know that oral health is a precursor to overall physical health? This is especially true of pets because up until recently, pet dentistry was not a primary concern in the dental world. At Shirley Veterinary Hospital we have always made dentistry a priority for our patients, utilizing a dedicated dental suite for all dental procedures.
Our veterinary team is dedicated to excellent oral health. We use our annual physical examinations as an opportunity to assess each pet's oral health, then we prescribe a dental cleaning when we believe that is necessary.
Our dental cleanings are performed with the same level of care and precision that we employ for major surgery. We utilize anesthesia monitoring tools just like we would in a surgical situation, ensuring your pet's safety. We always perform our dental cleanings with anesthesia because these are safer and more effective than non-anesthesia cleanings where your pet will become stressed and we would not be able to provide as complete and thorough a cleaning. We follow the AVMA's recommendations by only providing anesthetized cleanings.
Shirley Veterinary Hospital only performs anesthetized dental cleanings. Dental procedures will never be done on your pet while they are awake. This decision has been made for a number of reasons, but primarily because anesthetized dental's are the safest. Using an endotracheal tube is the best way to ensure that airways are always kept free of secretions and water sprayed with ultrasonic cleaning. When the pet is awake, we would also be unable to complete thorough inspections under the gums in order to detect underlying pockets and periodontal disease. Dental X-rays are impossible to perform without anesthesia as a sensor must be placed in the pet's mouth to take the radiographs, and this cannot be done with the pet awake. Non-anesthetic dental's are risky and only provide owners with a false sense of security about their pet's health and safety.
One of the most important parts of our dental procedures is our ability to take digital dental radiographs. Since half of the tooth lies beneath the gum line (gingiva), the best way to evaluate the tooth and to look for underlying issues such as root resorption, fractures, or periodontal disease is via x-ray. A tooth's crown may look perfect on a physical examination of the mouth, but once the pet is anesthetized, digital dental radiographs can reveal any bone loss surrounding the tooth and root. With our feline patients, we often observe problems like tooth root absorption, an issue that is best identified via x-ray. These radiographic findings guide us as to which teeth are healthy, which teeth are salvageable, and which teeth need to be extracted. Once the diseased
tooth is extracted and painful lesions addressed, pets feel happier and can eat comfortably.
An estimated 80% of dogs and 70% of cats develop periodontal disease by the age of three years if they do not receive proper oral care. For this reason, we strongly recommend at home dental care to maintain your pet's mouth between anesthetized dental cleanings. We recommend brushing, but we realize that this can be difficult for some pets, especially if they were not taught to accept brushing from a young age. Fortunately, the veterinary industry has introduced a number of excellent at-home dental care products that are both safe and effective for pets. Our team would be happy to teach you about at-home oral care, demonstrate proper tooth brushing techniques, and recommend helpful dental products to keep your pet's mouth healthy and clean.