An Alternative Dental Hygiene Strategy

For years I have emphasized to my clients the importance of providing their pets with yearly professional dental cleanings. I continue to tell them that next to superior nutrition dental hygiene is the one most important thing they can do to insure their pets enjoy a long and healthy life.

Unfortunately, in spite of the emphasis I have placed on the yearly professional teeth cleaning, many pet owners have chosen not to have this important procedure performed. The most common reason pet owners give for not having their pets teeth cleaned is their fear of having their pet receive a general anesthetic.

Although anesthesia is a legitimate concern it is quite rare that problems arise when healthy pets have their teeth cleaned, especially if their blood screen, urinalysis, and electrocardiogram are normal. It is very important for pet owners to understand that the much greater danger their pet faces comes from not having his or her teeth cleaned yearly. This danger is a result of the tartar that forms on the teeth. This tartar causes gum recession and breeds bacteria that produce toxins which are absorbed into the blood stream and ultimately cause liver, kidney and heart damage. This damage takes place slowly, in progressive steps which produce no outward signs at first, but then, as the damage adds up, symptoms of organ failure become noticeable If a dog or cat finally develops outward signs of kidney disease at the age of 10, the problem may not be the inevitable outcome of aging but rather caused by a preventable disease that could have been avoided by providing the pet with yearly dental cleanings and home dental care.

In spite of pet owners understanding the serious long term dangers of oral hygiene neglect, the more immediate anesthetic fears appear to take priority and overshadow the more likely to occur dangers that do not have to be faced for years. Because so many pets are deprived the benefits of a yearly teeth cleaning as a result of anesthetic concerns, I have felt compelled to devise an alternative dental strategy to minimize anesthetic fears and encourage more people to have their pets teeth cleaned.

This strategy is as follows: For those pet owners that cannot bring themselves to have their pets anesthetized I am offering a mini-prophylaxis that will be performed under sedation rather than light anesthetic. Because the pet will be sedated but not totally asleep, there are very definite limitations as to how thorough a cleaning can be performed. Pet owners that elect this mini-prophylaxis must understand that it is a compromise, but is far better than no teeth cleaning at all.

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