Guest Post: why do a dog or cat dental cleaning?

Embrace friend and advisor, Dr Rex Riggs, talks about why you should go ahead with the expense of a dental cleaning under anesthesia with X-rays. It's needed people!

Periodontal disease is the most common disease seen in our pets. Think about it. If we did not brush our teeth, used no mouthwash, ate whatever we can put in our mouth including, for dogs, that tasty hors d’ourve, the ever popular cat turd, what would our teeth look like? Put on top of this chomping down on deer antlers, bones, and nylabones, and you get a lot of chipped and broken teeth.

How many of us have had root canals?  They are a result of tooth root abscesses and they hurt like a mother. Dogs and cats have these same tooth root abscesses and continue to eat. They are great at hiding their pain.  How they do that is beyond me.  Did I mention tooth root abscesses hurt like a mother? 

Dental care in our pets is so important to the animal’s wellbeing and quality of life.  The plaque, which accumulates on the teeth, is just a harbouring site for bacteria that can be responsible for gingivitis as well as for infections a long way from teeth, such as the heart valves and kidneys, once it gets seeded in the blood stream. Dental health is not something to overlook.

Do you have some reservations about pet dentals, perhaps because of recent media stories? Recently ABC did a 20/20 story that talked about how vets use dentals as a scare tactic for clients to schedule dentals strictly as a underhanded way to make money.  They implied dental x-rays in our pets are just not needed.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

There is a great article, "How Honest is your Veterinarian" written by Steve Dale, who is a journalist, not a veterinarian, about this piece of yellow journalism, and how it's simply not true.  It is a very good read if you have a moment.

Dental radiography is very important in veterinary medicine and I would go as far as to say a vet should not be doing dentals without the ability to do intra-oral x-rays. You just can’t see what is going on under the gums where about 60% of the tooth lies.  Tooth root abscesses (which looks like a black halo around the root), bone loss around the tooth, and fractured roots are just three of the things you need an x-ray to diagnose.  Sometimes there are extra teeth, called supranumary teeth, lurking beneath the gum line. You would not be able to tell all these problems were going on just by looking at the teeth, even under anesthesia.

Check out the document below with radiographs illustrating the wonders of dental radiology. You will soon see that a lot of what is shown could not be seen with out x-rays.

Download Dental X Rays in dogs


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Guest Post: why do a dog or cat dental cleaning?

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Dr_RiggsDr. Rex Riggs grew up in Wadsworth, Ohio, near Akron. Dr Riggs is co-owner of Best Friends Veterinary Hospital in Powell, Ohio. He is also on the board of the North Central Region of Canine Companions of Independence, a board member of The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine Alumni Society and Small Animal Practitioner Advancement Board at The Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Riggs lives in Lewis Center, OH with his wife Nancy, their dogs Maggie and Ossa, and cat Franklin. Outside of work, Dr. Riggs is an avid golfer and cyclist, and enjoys travel and photography.

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