There are a lot of myths regarding pet dental care that need to be cleared up. Today, our Perry vets debunk a few common dental myths in the veterinary world.
Myth: Your Pet Doesn't Need an Oral Cleaning & Exam if Their Teeth Look Fine
The Truth: While a regular oral exam and cleaning are necessary to remove calculus (tartar) build-up, there are many problems with your pet’s teeth that cannot be seen by the naked eye, or without your pet under general anesthesia.
For one, it is difficult for a veterinarian to get a complete visual of the inside of your pet’s mouth while they are awake. A sedated oral exam isn’t always necessarily just about the teeth. While your pet is under anesthesia, your veterinarian will be able to see the entirety of the mouth and have the potential to catch any problem areas early.
The second reason why this is a myth is that you cannot see the entire structure of a tooth without dental radiographs. Two-thirds of your dog's and cat’s teeth are under the gum line. Dental radiographs allow the veterinarian to assess the teeth for fractures, bone loss, abscesses, and other signs of internal disease.
Myth 2: It Isn’t Safe for Older Pets to Go Under Anesthesia
The Truth: It is very common for pet owners to think that their pet is “too old” to go under general anesthesia. As long as a proper pre-anesthetic work-up indicates that there are no underlying conditions that would put them at risk, the risk of anesthesia-related complications is low. We use anesthetic protocols appropriate for the age of the pet and have a veterinary technician who monitors your pet during the entire procedure.
Severe dental disease has the potential to compromise more than just your pet’s mouth. Because bacteria from the mouth constantly enter the bloodstream, they can also cause harm to your pet’s heart, liver, and kidneys. These diseases will often pose a larger risk to your pet than the anesthesia itself. Don’t let age be the reason why your pet doesn’t receive proper dental care.
Myth 4: Your Pet Won't Be Able to Eat After a Tooth Extraction
The Truth: Believe it or not, many dogs and cats do little extensive chewing of their food, before swallowing. If your pet enjoyed dry food before having extractions, they will more than likely be able to return to eating it after their extraction sites have healed.
While we see dogs and cats do this all the time, owners are welcome to transition their pet to either canned food or begin to moisten their dry food with some water, if they feel it makes eating easier for their pet. The primary goal is always going to be an improved quality of life for the pet.
Myth 5: Bad Breath Is Normal for Cats & Dog
The Truth: While your pet’s breath will probably never smell minty fresh, any extreme odors should be evaluated by your veterinarian. Most pets with extremely foul-smelling breath will have some form of periodontal disease that needs to be addressed.
Myth 6: At-Home Dental Care Doesn't Matter if They Go to the Vet Regularly
The Truth: At-home dental care can make a huge difference in your pet’s mouth. While routine brushing is the gold standard for reducing plaque, tartar, and diseased teeth, this is not always an easy task for a pet owner.
If you cannot brush, talk to your veterinarian about a variety of VOHC-approved chews and oral rinses that can help care for your pet’s teeth in between their preventative visits with their veterinary dentist.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.