The nationally acclaimed Pet Dental Health Month is February, but, in reality, dental/periodontal disease never takes a vacation or slows down – it’s always accruing in your pet’s mouth every day. And, unless, you are giving your pet twice daily toothbrushing and regular adjunctive home oral care, your cat or dog will need to have their teeth assessed and professionally cleaned by your veterinarian at least a few times in their life.
How often a pet needs to have their teeth cleaned is variable, but many should have at least annual dental cleaning and assessments while others may be more frequent and sometimes less frequent. Breed, crowding of teeth and other issues play a significant role in how quickly tartar accrues. Add to that a faster than human physiologic time clock and you can see why we develop dental/periodontal disease.
One question we always hear is, “Why does it cost so much for my pet to get their teeth cleaned?” It’s simple really – it is not comparable to when you and I as humans get our teeth cleaned at regular visits every four, six or twelve months. Rather, veterinarians are performing a deep cleaning for which we humans would be drugged to keep us in the chair with our patients safely under general anesthesia. And, most typically, we are dealing with a pet’s periodontal disease at stage 2 or greater while humans getting regular dental care tend to have minimal periodontal disease.
It’s hard to compare facility to facility and care varies highly among practices, but the chart below can help you ask questions if it is not obvious the level of care your pet will receive. Cheaper is not better when it comes to pet dental and periodontal care and treatment – do not hesitate to ask your veterinarian about what is and isn’t included in a dental assessment and cleaning as well as who monitors the pet, who cleans the teeth and does the veterinarian perform the extractions. Transparency should be present and, if not, should give you concern for the level of care.
Lastly, know that good oral health and dental care can keep your pet comfortable and actually give them more healthy years with you.