I had a conversation with my vet over the weekend on how important it is for you to brush your dog's teeth when another friend of hers asked if it was worth going to the businesses that offer dental cleaning without anesthesia. She mentioned two factors that I think everyone should know; first of all since May of 1990 it has been illegal for anyone other than a licensed veterinarian to perform dentistry on an animal in California (or the person must be supervised by a licensed veterinarian during the cleaning), and second they find that quite a few dogs actually get abscesses because the cleaning is not done correctly or does not effectively clean under the gum line leading to periodontal disease. 80% of dogs have dental disease by the time they are 3 years old!
Even though I had my dad, who was a veterinarian, show me how to scale above the gum line I know that I don't to each tooth well enough keep plaque from doing damage under the gums so they are definitely due for a professional cleaning soon. In the meantime I need to more vigilant about brushing every day because I have to admit I get too busy sometimes and say "tomorrow, I'll do it tomorrow." Well, you know how that goes. I paid for it tonight because Nooner fought me like I've never had her do for a cleaning which means her teeth hurt, and I looked in Ernie's mouth to see more tartar build up then I've ever seen! Yikes! He's definitely going in for a cleaning now. How often do you brush your dog's teeth?
If you haven't brushed your dog's teeth before here's a video on how beneficial it is to brush and how to do it correctly. You'll need a toothbrush and pet toothpaste that has the right PH balance. Let your dog lick off the toothpaste at first, or even chew on the brush to get used to the texture, then slowly start brushing. Small dog's are a bit tougher but I've found if I hook a finger in their cheek and then gently pull back I can get to the back teeth easier. Do you have any tricks that you use?
Links to California regulations regarding dentistry and information on dental cleaning
- Dental Regulations (Practice of Veterinary Medicine Defined)
- VMA reports on Anesthesia Free Dental Cleaning
- Biting Down on Anesthesia Free Pet Dentistry
- American Veterinary Dental College position
So, before you go the route of anesthesia free cleaning please do more research so you make an educated decision regarding your pet's dental health.