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Open Up and Say Ahhhhh

Paper Trained
Scott Sandeman, D.V.M.
Pet and pet parents that have visited their veterinarian in the past month are undoubtedly aware that February is Pet Dental Month.  As we have discussed in the past, most pets over the age of 2 will have some degree of periodontal disease and will benefit from having their teeth examined and cleaned resulting in a healthier mouth and potentially longer life expectancy.  
For many owners that fail to take advantage of a dental cleaning for their pet, the reluctance stems from a fear of anesthesia and the necessity of it for a dental procedure.  To help explain why your pet needs some type of sedation for dentistry, consider these points:
1) When you are going to the dentist, the dentist can ask you how you feel and adjust techniques to make you more comfortable.  Pets can’t comprehend the benefits of a dental cleaning and can become stressed, fail to lie still and even bite.
2)Most pets will require x-rays to identify teeth that have problems not visible from the surface.  To get a diagnostic x-ray, pets must be very still-a situation not possible without anesthesia.  Additionally, pets that may move to escape the procedure could injure themselves, the dental technician and even the dental equipment by suddenly jerking their head about.  In fact, the American Veterinary Dental College doesn’t recommend cleaning without anesthesia for these reasons.
3)The risks of anesthesia should always be thoroughly discussed with your veterinarian but modern medications are safer now than ever.  Additionally, cardiac and respiratory monitoring of a pet under a general anesthetic is commonplace to assist in quickly identifying issues that might arise during a procedure.
Treating your pet’s dental disease involves a thorough exam, x-rays and dental cleaning which means the administration of some type of anesthetic.  Make sure you have a discussion with your veterinarian to decide the best and safest way to accomplish dentistry and improve your pet’s dental health.

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