Today we had a beautiful senior golden retriever in for a complete dental cleaning under anesthesia. Buddy had been receiving a non-anesthetic dental ("NAD") cleaning annually for years. During the most recent NAD Buddy's family was told that he had dental issues that they could not address as pus was emerging from under the gum line and a root was exposed.
Buddy had his first "real" dental cleaning of his life today, here at Family Pet Clinic of Redondo Beach, and he had FOUR abscessed teeth that needed to be extracted. He is going to feel much better now! The correct term for a "real" dental cleaning is "Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment", or what we call a "COHAT". This absolutely involves anesthesia and a full set of dental x-rays, as 60% of the tooth surface lies below the gum line and is not visible without radiography.
The tooth in these photos has been sectioned-- you are looking at a root and the cross section of the crown. You can see black infection that extended all the way down the root, and you can see black infection that was present in the root canal. Ouch.
Take home points: Non-anesthetic dental cleanings are considered a COSMETIC procedure ONLY. There is NO health benefit to the dog or cat, as the teeth cannot be cleaned below the gum line, the insides of the teeth cannot be cleaned, and dental x-rays can NOT be taken.
Please please please do NOT take your dogs or cats to anyone performing non-anesthetic dental cleanings unless they have ALREADY received a full and complete dental cleaning under anesthesia within the prior 6 months.
We have fabulous dental packages here and are happy to consult with you regarding not only your pet's dental health but also how to maintain and manage the teeth on an on-going basis at home.
Dr. Kimberly Daffner