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| Dental X-Rays
It is not possible to do a complete oral exam let alone a thorough cleaning without anesthesia. Each surface of each tooth and all areas of the gums need to be examined.
Dental x-rays are needed to find the majority of problems, and anesthesia is needed to obtain the x-rays.
For example, a tooth can appear normal or only slightly affected but can have severe disease which is shown in an x-ray. While we may just see some slight inflammation at the gum line, an x-ray of the tooth may show that it is abscessed, and may require a root canal procedure or be extracted.
Owners of pets in pain may not even recognize it until their pet's teeth are treated. If your pet has pain from their teeth, they will be much happier once its taken care of!
Does your dog have stinky breath? Do your cat's teeth look brown? In fact, periodontal disease is the most common disease that pets develop. It is estimated that 80 to 85% of dogs and cats have some degree of infection. It is not just a cosmetic problem, chronic infection shortens their life because of effects on other organs, especially the heart, kidneys, and liver, not to mention the pain that bad teeth can cause.
Veterinarians are trained to diagnose and treat periodontal disease. Unfortunately, there is a growing trend to offer "anesthesia free dentistry" by untrained people at grooming parlors and pet food stores. Here are six reasons why "anesthesia free dentistry" is a terrible idea.
In "anesthesia free dentistry" the dogs are just held down and the teeth are scraped with a metal tool to clean tartar off the crowns of the teeth. One problem is that the crowns are only about 2% of the problem. Pathology takes place under the gums and this is where veterinarians concentrate their treatment. Cleaning the crowns is just a cosmetic treatment, it does nothing to improve the health of the pet. Dogs are stressed with "anesthesia free" dentistry. They have to be held firmly to try to reduce movement. Think how hard it is to get them to hold still just to brush their teeth. Hand scaling uses sharp metal instruments. Even a slight movement can cause injury to teeth, gums, lips, even the eyes. Also, as the dog is struggling, it can aspirate pieces of tartar as it is removed. Fractures of the jaw have also been known to occur.
Hand scaling with metal instruments causes etches in the enamel of the teeth. Veterinarians use either power instruments that cause less etching, or are able to use a light touch with hand instruments on the enamel because the pet is not moving. Then the teeth are polished to smooth the enamel. With the "anesthesia free" procedure, deeper grooves are made in the enamel of the teeth, which enables the tartar to attach and accumulate even faster.
When your pet has an "anesthesia free" procedure, it gives you a false sense of accomplishment and delays the treatment your pet really needs. It is very common to find abscessed teeth, fractured teeth, and bone loss on x-rays that no one could see just by looking in the mouth. It is illegal. In the United States and Canada, only licensed veterinarians can practice dentistry. Anyone providing dental services other than a DVM or a supervised, trained licensed veterinary technician working directly with a DVM, is practicing veterinary medicine without a license and is open to prosecution.
Owners are commonly concerned about putting their beloved pets under anesthesia, but modern anesthetic techniques and monitoring equipment actually make it as safe as in human medicine. As you can see, there is more risk if any dental procedure is done without anesthesia.
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Don't take a good vet for granted, that's what I say. I currently live in another state and have taken my 10 year old dog to numerous vets over the years (California, Colorado, Vegas, and then some). Never have I ever received the attention and care I've gotten w/Dr. Hines. Within the past 3 months alone, my dog went to 3 different vets for a horrible and painful skin problem that broke out all over her body.
The first vet: I spent more time ponying up the $175 for the visit than the Dr. spent actually looking at my dog. He performed a woods lamp exam for ringworm. Even without Google or a veterinary degree, I could tell it wasn't ringworm. Thanks for taking my money.
Second vet: "Here's some spray, now here's your bill. Bring her back in two weeks so I can charge you another visit." No tests, nothing.
Between the two, I felt like I got nowhere. No definitive answer on why this affected my dog and the medication given wasn't even for a diagnosed condition. Just some general topical spray. I could have bought it at Petsmart and saved myself the time and money.
Recently, on a visit to Idaho, I planned ahead to bring my dog to the Rupert Animal Clinic. I asked the same questions, had the same concerns and now have different results. Dr. Hines gave me options on what route to take, ran appropriate tests and communicated with me every step of the way (even calling me personally when test results came in). My primary concern was cancer. Our dog is like our child- we'll pay the money if we can keep her healthy and safe. In the future, I've resolved to bring my dog to Rupert Animal Clinic on our annual trip for all of her exams. I know she won't be treated as a little cash cow to exploit an owner's love for pets.