Do treats cause cavities? Your pet tooth health FAQs answered

November 08, 2017

Do treats cause cavities? Your pet tooth health FAQs answered

There’s no season like Halloween for thinking about rotting teeth. Unfortunately, few pet parents ever have a look in their pet’s mouth, and it’s hard to recognize what you are seeing. But we are here to help... to gaze in the gnashing jaws of your Chihuahua or Ragdoll, and help you sift the dental myths from the toothy truth! Here are our answers to come of the most common dental questions from caring pet parents:

Are pearly whites really so important? I love my pet and don’t really care what their teeth look like...

The truth is that dental disease, such as infection and rotting teeth, can affect a pet’s whole body. What’s going on in their mouth has a huge impact on your cat or dog’s kidneys, liver, heart and lungs, which are some pretty vital organs.  Hidden infections in their mouth and gums can also complicate diabetes, and pregnancy. Dental disease can also cause other problems including cavities, broken teeth, orthodontic disease, and tooth resorption, tooth root abscesses, jaw fractures, nasal infection, eye loss and oral cancer. Yikes! 

Ok, you’ve convinced me it’s important... now, do all pets need their teeth checked? When should I bring my bff in for a look?

Well first of all, dental estimates are always free at Pandosy Village Veterinary Hospital. We don’t want a quick look in the mouth appointment to be a barrier to dental health.

If any of these factors apply to your best furry friend, you should definitely come in for a free (did we mention FREE?) dental estimate appointment:

  • You have a little dog over two years old. Those little guys just have a dilly of a time with plaque buildup, gum disease and infection.
  • You have a cat over five years old. A third of our dentistry patients are cats! They are particularly susceptible to rotting teeth, abscesses and painful tooth reabsorption.
  • Your dog or cat, of any size or age, has bad breath, doesn’t want to eat or has a sensitive mouth. These are the classic surface symptoms of mouth pain and dental disease. 

If you do have a regular annual preventative health exam coming up, no fear... Dr. Jason always does a look in your pet’s mouth when they come in for an annual. It’s one of the most important progressive health issues we keep a regular eye on. And if they do need some dental care, Dr. Jason’ll do a FREE dental estimate up for you, for no additional charge to your annual exam.

What about anesthesia? Isn’t it dangerous for older pets? Can’t I just go to the pet store and have dental cleaning done without it?

Age itself is not a disease, so if your pet is otherwise healthy, their age won't increase their risk of anesthetic complications. However the risk of painful mouth conditions like gum disease, tooth resorption and oral cancer, are dramatically increased for older dogs and cats. This means that for your senior pet, proper dental care is critically important.

No matter how old they are, we run a blood test to check for anesthesia red flags for every  cat or dog, regardless of age, before we send them to sleepyland under anesthesia. If anything comes up, we call off the dentistry - it’s rare, but it does happen sometimes. So that’s why we’d do it.

As for the “anesthesia-free dentistry,” well, it’s not dentistry. Permit a little rant! because we get annoyed when people get misled. Any cleaning done at a pet store or at someone’s house is a purely cosmetic, “for looks only” service. (And if they claim otherwise, they are in violation of the law. Seriously.) If your pet isn’t in sleepyland, you can’t do dental X-rays, check for cavities or rotting teeth, or even clean under the gumline. In other words, you can’t do dentistry.

Sadly, we’ve had several amazing, loving pet parents come to us because their pet is experiencing health issues, with white-looking teeth on the surface from “no anesthesia dentistry,” and the tooth roots just rotting away, full of infection. The poor folks were trying to the best for their pets, and had no idea what was lurking under the surface.

Ok, so that was a rare bit of a rant, but we feel bad for the folks who get misled. The long and short of it is to get your pet’s teeth checked by a vet.

Isn’t dentistry expensive? Am I going to have a heart attack when I pick up my pet and see the bill?

Dentistry isn’t cheap, because it’s a very involved procedure. When your pet arrives, we first run pre-anesthetic bloodwork. Then if everything’s is ok, we insert an IV catheter, sedate them, intubate them and hook them up to the oxygen flow, hook up an ECG, put them under with anesthesia, and start running dental X-rays. Usually there are a dozen or so views to see the whole of the pet’s mouth. Then Dr. Jason gets busy pulling any nasty teeth (which he’s taken special training in Baltimore to do, by the way,) and then closes over any holes with gum flaps and dissolvable sutures. Meanwhile, the nurse is monitoring anesthesia, keeping your pet warm with electric blankets, etc. Then the nurse does teeth scaling while Dr. Jason supervises. Then we take the pet off anesthesia, take out the tracheal oxygen tube, take off the EVG lines and unhook the IV, and the nurse monitors them (which usually involves holding your pet and snuggling them and talking to them to wake them up.) Yup, it’s a lot of work. But it has a hugely positive effect on your pet’s health, and it’s worth it.

We have a no surprise policy at our hospital, because we’ve heard stories of shocking bills at veterinary tills. All of our prices are right here! When you come in for a free dental estimate, Dr. Jason’s tells you which one or two price levels the procedure will be at, and we never exceed the top price. And importantly, our prices include all of the services you read about above, as well as pain medication and any related followup visits.

No surprises. That’s our approach. We want you to take care of you pet’s teeth, and giving you firm, clear pricing certainly does help with the financial fear of dentistry for many people.

How do I book a free dental estimate appointment?

If you have any questions about dentistry or your pet’s tooth and mouth health, don’t hesitate to ask. Most of our staff have had their own cat or dog’s teeth done, and we can share with you about it from a pet parent’s perspective, as well as from a medical point of view. 

To book, just give us a shout 778-478-7088 or shoot us an email and we’ll find the perfect time for you to bring your pet it.

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