More than meets the eye..

Pet owners all over the world are probably guilty of not brushing their pet’s teeth. I know for certain that I am one of them. (oops)
Gold standard care includes DAILY teeth brushing.. so hands up those who do not do this every single day!!

Several years back I walked past a pet shop in Singapore and saw the advertisement for an anesthetic free dental scaling package. I must admit that I do not see many of these advertisements throughout my years in Australia. But it appears to be extremely prevalent in Asian countries.  I entered the store and begun asking them questions like I was an interested customers.

1. How do you get the animals to sit still and open up their mouth
Their answer: Most animals will just do it. We use a mouth gag to keep their mouth open. (GASP!!!)
Spring loaded mouth-gags are no longer recommended in the use of dental procedures in my years of practice due to the risks in causing blindness (particularly in cats),the pressure these gags put on the muscles in the jaw and mouth. See article.
Let’s be realistic here-no animal is going to enjoy the loud noise from the dental machine, the discomfort of having their mouth pried open and is going to just surrender and not put up a fight.

2. How do you remove the teeth that require extractions?
Their answer: Bad tooth have no attachments. So the animals feel no pain when this occurs. (-_-)
Need i say more?–

Back in Perth, the hospital that I worked for was advanced in the veterinary equipment they possess and Dental radiographs were routinely taken for patients undergoing a dental procedure. This allows the assessment of the roots of teeth beyond what we are able to see superficially. Realistically speaking, most smaller veterinary practices are unable to afford such luxury and at this stage, I am not aware of any veterinary clinics in Singapore that performs dental radiographs as part of their protocol

So let’s talk about what a PROPER dental scaling procedure done by a trained veterinarian comprises of.

  • A thorough physical examination
  • Pre-anaesthetic bloodwork (if deemed necessary),
  • an anaesthetic (using drugs selected based on the patient’s signalment to lower the anesthetic risk).
  • Placement of an endotracheal tube and cuff (for provision of oxygen, anesthetic gas and prevention of the backflow of fluid from the dental machines into the oesophagus or tracheal, hence lowering the risk of aspiration)
  • Dental radiographs (if available)
  • Complete dental examination with dental probe and charting
  • Scaling of the teeth seen superficially
  • Scaling of the area UNDER the gingiva
  • Polishing
  • Irrigation
  • Repeat radiographs (if available)
  • Post therapy ancillary treatment (antibiotics if deemed necessary, suturing of extraction sites if deemed necessary, anti-inflammtories if deemed necessary)
  • Home care notes and plan for continuous care, recheck, etc.

Many may hesitate proceeding with a dental procedure as described above due to concerns with putting an animal under anaesthetic. However one should note that AGE should NOT prevent an animal from receiving proper care. Steps can be taken prior to the anaesthetic to lower it’s risk- ie. thorough physical examination, per-anaesthetic blood work to assess organ function, etc.

As compared to the anaesthetic- free procedure, the procedure is firstly NOT performed by a trained veterinarian, it is done without a complete physical or oral examination, dental gags are often used, no endotracheal cuff is place as such risk of aspiration is high, no scaling of the area under the gingiva is perform, the animal often are traumtised by the discomfort and loud noise of the scaling machine, extractions are done without local anaesthetic and without proper technique, no post-op treatment can be instituted… and most importantly.. the teeth MAY look clean superficially, but there may be festering periodontal disease occurring.

Please refer to the American veterinary dental college excerpt for further information.

I hope the above helps clarify the differences between an anaesthetic free dental procedure vs a dental scaling procedure performed by your local veterinarian. I do understand that the latter cost significantly more, but ultimately if you want to get a job done, get it done proper.

Please contact me or your local veterinarian for further information.
P.S. I really like finger dental toothbrush for brushing your pet’s teeth
P.P.S. You have to do it EVERY SINGLE DAY (like how you brush your teeth 2x a day… or so i hope!)

Thanks for stopping by!


3 thoughts on “More than meets the eye..

Add yours

  1. I want to brush the dog’s teeth at home, what sort of advice can you offer a complete novice in this area; techniques, paste, type of brush etc?
    Thanks in advance.


    1. Start slow! Especially if you have never done it for them before. I tell clients to first introduce their fingers into the dog’s mouth. Do this when they are relaxed, perhaps when you have them on your lap whilst you watch the television. Just get them used to having something placed in their mouth and get them used to the brushing action. Do this for at least 2 weeks. Then move on to a finger toothbrush. They are really cheap instruments that should fit on your finger like a glove. Google “finger tooth brush for pet”. The brushing action ultimately is the most important and paste aren’t always necessary. Just remember to never use human tooth brush as animals may die should the toothpaste contain xylitol !!

      Liked by 2 people

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