It always seems to come as such a surprise - the annual exam of a family pet who appears perfectly healthy. Owners expect a clean bill of health are now shocked to hear that Fluffy has dental disease.
We always regret to inform you of any health issues related to your beloved furry family member but this is a key reason for us to examine your pet once or twice per year — to detect problems before they get worse and to educate you about "invisible" health issues.
Unlike humans, cats and dogs don't brush or floss their teeth daily nor do they gargle with mouthwash. Most of them don't visit the dentist for twice yearly dental cleanings either. Try to think about this from a person's perspective. Imagine what your mouth would look like if you didn't receive daily, weekly, or even yearly care.
What kind of condition would your teeth and gums be in? Would you expect your dentist to be able to give you all the details from a brief 15 second look at your teeth while sitting in the office chair? No! And the reason why is because that glance in the mouth will only skim the surface of what's happening below the gum line after little to no care.
We, as veterinarians, also face the following predicament every day. We receive the honor of examining your pet from nose to tail and we have many topics to discuss in a very limited amount of time.
Consider this: Fluffy is nervous and stressed - he doesn’t really like to have the mouth touched, much less to have it opened, probed, and stared at from different angles. The oral exam is limited to say the least. Perhaps we'll get a glimpse of some gingivitis and calculus but nothing extensive and certainly nothing below the gum line.
Would you be okay getting a thumbs up on your dental health from your dentist after receoving such a limited exam, especially knowing you might not have brushed a single tooth - maybe ever?
In reality, it’s really not until Fluffy is under general anesthesia that a thorough evaluation of the gums and teeth can be performed. This exam, coupled with dental x-rays used to explore what's going on below the gum line, is the only way to accurately determine Fluffy’s true oral health.
Our goal is to provide your pet the most complete dental evaluation tools, treatment modalities, and maintenance protocols for optimal dental health. We want you to realize that the portion of tooth you see is only the tip of the iceberg and the disease you can see is often much worse in areas you can’t. We want to work with you as a team to provide the best possible care to your pet - this includes their teeth and gums.
We encourage pet owners to brush their pet's teeth at least four times a week and bring them in for routine dental exams, cleanings, and radiographs once or twice per year. We want you to understand the value of the diagnostic tools we use, such as dental x-rays, that can locate disease we cannot see with the naked eye. The pain and infection associated with dental disease is very real and very detrimental but it's often hidden and not known about until it's so severe that it can no longer be overlooked.
February is National Pet Dental Month but we care about dental health all year round. If you have your pet’s teeth cleaned within 30 days of a full exam and blood work, we'll honor the $50 discount no matter the time of year. We don’t ever want to leave a pet waiting for help when they need it.