Benefits of 12-step teeth cleaning
Teeth cleaning is a loose term applied to all levels of dental care in pets. The major difference in cleaning pet’s teeth compared to human dentistry is that anesthesia is necessary. The temptation to take shortcuts by trying to accomplish complete care w/o anesthesia can have significant long term health implications.
The primary benefits would be preventing pain, tooth loss, and internal disease for your pet. The primary benefits for the family would be peace of mind knowing there were no painful conditions lurking in the mouth, less breath odors, and significant cost savings if taken care of early.
The primary concerns of almost all pet owners are anesthetic safety, adequate pain control, and cost.
If we can catch disease in Grades 1 and early 2 we rarely have to do anything additional. In this respect complications of periodontal disease are almost entirely preventable if we address it early.
Answers to common questions
1) How do we address anesthetic safety at our clinic?
• Our staff is well trained to be able to safely induce & monitor anesthesia
• We have “state of the art” monitoring and warming units
• We have an AAHA accredited hospital and follow AAHA protocols
• Drs & Certified veterinary technicians work as a team
• We place IV catheters in all pets
• We practice balanced anesthesia by using pre-emptive and comprehensive pain relief using local blocks & premeds to lower induction & maintenance amounts of inhaled anesthetics.
Note: “Sedation dentistry” does NOT allow the complete visualization, charting and staging/documentation using x-rays that can be obtained by our 12-step cleaning. Placement of an endotracheal tube is paramount for a thorough cleaning and anesthetic safety.
We have a board certified anesthesiologist available (by appt) for high risk, long or complicated anesthesia or just for extra “peace of mind.” Please ask for details.
2) What is the “comprehensive 12-step teeth cleaning” as performed by the dentistry team as WFPC?
1) Pre-surgical exam and consultation with Dr
2) Pre-medication/pain relief before anesthesia (we encourage you to be present)
3) Ultrasonic cleaning using Chlorhexidene (antiseptic rinse)
4) Hand scaling
5) Sub gingival curettage (under gum debridement if advanced disease)
6) Root planing (if advanced disease)
7) Slow speed polishing
8) Complete oral charting
9) Oral Exam by Dr (including oral cancer)
10) Fluoride application
11) Oravet ® barrier sealant applied
12) Personalized Dental home care plan
NOTE: Steps 3 thru 11 and dental X-rays (see below) can only be done thoroughly and safely while under general anesthesia.
Virtually every board certified veterinary dentist agrees that this 12-step approach (including dental x-rays) will detect the most problems and is preferred. This is supported by the AAHA dentistry guidelines.
3) Why does teeth cleaning cost more than my own teeth cleaning?
The primary difference is the use of anesthesia and the additional expense of that monitoring and use of drugs that is not typically necessary in human dentistry. Pets can’t and simply won’t allow the necessary procedures while awake.
To control costs…..the early preventative approach is also the most cost effective approach. Grade 1 & 2 dental cleanings typically costs $150 to $250 but Grade 3 & 4 stages can be from $500 to over $1000 to include the full mouth radiographs, oral surgery, anesthesia and pain medications it takes when disease is advanced.
4) What “surprises” can be found when a 12-step comprehensive teeth cleaning is performed? (To avoid an additional anesthetic episode ideally they will be taken care immediately after cleaning & radiographs)
• Deep periodontal pockets
• Missing teeth (dogs should have 42 and cats 32)
• Chipped or fractured teeth
• Resorptive lesions
• Apical abscesses
• Malformed teeth
• Discolored teeth
Many of these teeth can be saved by applying sealants, below gum time released antibiotics (perioceutic), performing a root canal (if an important tooth) or extraction via oral surgery techniques. These decisions will be made on a tooth by tooth basis fully involving you in the decision making process.
5) How important are dental x-rays?
• Over 25% of dogs with normal oral exams have 1 or more problems that are only evident on radiographs
• Over 50% of cats the age of 5 or older have abnormal x-rays.
• All chipped and discolored teeth may have abscesses.
• Before any teeth are removed oral pathology needs to be identified.
• Missing teeth can develop bone destructive cysts.
• A “look into future” gives us ability to prevent unnecessary emergency dental visits or painful episode.
6) How do we address concerns about pain?
• Local blocks
• Non steroidal anti inflammatories (NSAIDS) like Rimadyl, Previcox, and Metacam
• Narcotic pain injections
• Constant assessment (before, during & after procedure)
• At home pain relievers
7) How is dentistry different between different dog breeds?
WFPC practices breed specific dentistry (the following breeds need a different dental prevention and treatment focus)
- Retrievers (chipped teeth, discolored teeth)
- Pugs, bostons, boxers, shitzus, Lhasas, Yorkshire terriers, bull dogs (missing teeth, crowded, partially erupted, deciduous canine teeth)
- All small dogs less than 20 lbs (prone to periodontitis & teeth loss because of thin bone)
- Greyhounds (prone to periodontitis)
- Brachycephalic (short nosed) breeds have slightly higher anesthetic risk
8) How do we help you prevent too frequent teeth cleanings?
The comprehensive personalized homecare plan we provide includes:
- Periodontal vaccine
- VOHC (veterinary oral health council) approved foods (DH & TD)
- Oravet ® barrier sealant
- Evidence based tooth brushing pastes & rinses
- Evidence based treats & water additives
- Recommendation of Teeth safe toys
As this area is full of new information this is an open blog. Please feel free to share your comments and any additional concerns! If I can’t answer them, I know experts who can!
Dr. Ken Lambrecht