Dental health encompasses more than just teeth cleaning. We offer a thorough and proactive approach to veterinary dentistry.
Dental health starts in puppy or kittenhood with an assessment of dental occlusion, or “bite”. The orientation and shape of the upper and lower jaws, and the resulting effect on tooth position, has great impact on dental health. A simple procedure like removing a crowded or malpositioned tooth can have a lasting benefit on future dental health. With proper assessment and planning, any necessary dental intervention can be performed at the time of spay or neuter, without the need for an additional anesthetic procedure. To encourage proactive dental intervention, we recommend a dental exam prior to juvenile spaying and neutering. This complimentary “teeth check” visit allows us to assess the newly erupted dentition and review our recommendations with the pet owner prior to the surgery day.
As a pet enters young adulthood, the focus is still on prevention. It is best to be proactive while the pet is young and the mouth is healthy. Waiting until the teeth are “dirty” is a reactive approach that results in disease. You can’t prevent disease that is already established! Preventive dental care involves three parties: the owner, the veterinarian, and the pet.
Chew on This
Dogs love to chew. Chewing or gnawing on appropriate objects helps remove plaque from teeth in the rear of the mouth, far away from the reach of toothbrushes--areas that are invisible even during a careful visual exam. Not all “chew toys” are safe, though. See here for more information about safe chew objects.
Moms and Dads are Part of the Equation
Also important is home dental care performed by the owner. Tooth brushing is one of the single most beneficial things a pet owner can do for a pet. And since it is nearly free, the cost/benefit analysis makes it a “no-brainer”! In spite of this, pet owners dread the thought of brushing a pet’s teeth. Many struggle and wrestle to brush, then give up in defeat. It is not difficult at all, however, if one takes the time to acclimate the pet to brushing. A gradual introduction accompanied by rewards usually yields a successful pet-owner tooth brushing team. Click here for more information on tooth brushing.
It’s More than just “Teeth Cleaning"
Finally, professional examination and cleaning is essential to long term dental health. Even diligent home care misses important areas of the mouth. Since visual exams frequently miss disease that is hiding under the gum, periodic detailed exams and x-rays under anesthesia are essential to detect early reversible stages of disease. This exam gives the veterinarian full access to every tooth. Each tooth is thoroughly examined and compared to the dental x-ray. Cleaning and polishing of the teeth is important to prevent accumulations of calculus (tartar) from becoming established periodontal disease, and is typically done at the same visit. Click here for more information about professional dental exams and cleaning.
Because we believe so strongly in proactive dentistry, Heekin Animal Hospital has a discount program for pet owners who want to keep their pet’s mouth healthy. Dental Dollars are earned simply by being a young dog or cat, and are applied to a dental cleaning and exam performed before 3 years of age. Older pets earn Dental Dollars with their first dental cleaning and exam. The Dental Dollar discount is applied to a subsequent dental cleaning within 18 months. In addition, our dental patients earn discounts on dental products for any pet in their household for the next 12 months.
More Questions? Check out our Dental FAQ.