Pets who experience proper professional dental care can live two to four years longer than pets who suffer from painful periodontal problems. Here at Mill Creek Animal Hospital, we are devoted to helping your beloved companion live the longest, healthiest life possible. Proper dental care is a cornerstone of pet health care, as oral bacteria can affect more than just your pet’s mouth. A heavy bacteria load in a dirty mouth can seep into your pet’s bloodstream and damage her heart, liver, and kidneys. While you do an excellent job with your pet’s at-home dental-care regimen, regular professional dental care builds on the foundation that your good care provides. Here are four ways professional dental care is a step above at-home care. 

#1: Pets are often more cooperative with our team than their owners

Pets act similarly to small children, who often are better behaved for people who are not their parents. We are skilled in pet bribery, and we know the correct handling techniques that will grant us safe access to your pet’s mouth. While gently handling your pet, we can evaluate her oral cavity for dental-disease signs, such as gingivitis, fractured teeth, tartar accumulation, loose teeth, abscesses, or oral masses. Once we’ve assessed your pet’s dental-health status, we can create a treatment plan to return your furry friend’s mouth to tip-top condition, giving you a clean slate for your at-home care regimen. Without a thorough assessment, we will never know what problems are lurking in your pet’s mouth. 

#2: Toothbrushing can only reach so much of your pet’s plaque and tartar

No matter how many times a day you brush your pet’s teeth, you will never be able to reach all her hidden plaque and tartar. As much as 60% of each tooth lies beneath the gumline, allowing hidden periodontal pockets that a toothbrush cannot reach to trap oral bacteria, but we have special tools that can safely clean away accumulated tartar beneath the gumline without hurting her gums. Tartar not only stays out of sight, but also tends to build up on the back teeth in your pet’s mouth. The upper carnassial teeth and molars are especially attractive spots for tartar, but they also can be difficult to reach with a toothbrush, especially in cats and small dogs. When we anesthetize your pet for her professional dental cleaning, her mouth will relax enough for us to reach well back and remove tartar from every tooth’s surface. 

#3: Dental X-rays that pinpoint your pet’s hidden oral issues can be taken only under anesthesia

Since most pets are uneasy with strange situations, dental X-rays would be impossible without anesthesia. With full-mouth dental X-rays, we can find problems hidden beneath the gumline that would otherwise fester and cause your pet pain until they became visible. During your toothbrushing sessions at home, you can check each tooth’s crown for disease, but you cannot see jaw-bone loss, tooth-root abscesses, or the extent of decay in diseased teeth. With the help of dental X-rays, we can discover oral issues that lurk hidden in your pet’s mouth, and form the proper treatment plan to ensure she is pain- and infection-free. 

#4: Pets do not sit still and say, “Ahhh,” for dental care

If your pet stays seated and opens her mouth wide during your at-home dental care routine, you are a fortunate pet owner. Many pets are reluctant to have their mouths manipulated and, all too often, owners stop struggling to brush their untrained pet’s teeth. Since many pets tolerate no more than a brief glance into their oral cavity, assessing their oral health can be difficult. While a quick daily toothbrushing will help battle bacteria, nothing can replace the anesthetized dental cleaning our team can perform. Some veterinary practices boast about their anesthesia-free dental cleanings, but those procedures can cause your pet unnecessary trauma and fear, and they do not allow full-mouth dental X-rays, remove all the pet’s tartar, or address any periodontal problems without pain. 

Contact us to schedule your pet’s professional dental cleaning to treat, or help prevent, painful periodontal problems.