Yes – last week my dog, Brett had his teeth cleaned again. I say again because the last time I did the procedure was only 3 months ago. This dog has a natural plaque-building rate that nearly equals the rate that weeds grow in our yard. Every time he has his teeth cleaned, it is the full monty. He is under general anesthesia, has his teeth hand-scaled, then ultrasonic scaled. After that, they are polished and we apply fluoride. Most dogs after having this procedure done can go over 12 months before having to repeat. Even longer when they are getting oral care at home. Not my Brett. I have tried it all and he just has bad teeth. Why am I telling you this?
Many people are concerned about repeated anesthetic procedures (surgeries). Brett is living proof that this fear is quite unwarranted. He has been having surgery at least once a year ever since he was four years old. He is now thirteen years old and acts like he is a five year old dog.
Many people put off teeth cleaning procedures for a variety of reasons, but waiting to do it will only make the disease worse. It is best to get teeth cleanings done early to prevent having to extract teeth. It has been two years since Brett’s last extraction and the teeth are looking good because we continue to remove the plaque as it is formed.
Many people are concerned that their pet is too old for anesthesia. Remember that I mentioned Brett is now 13. I have modified his anesthetic protocol over the years and based on his most recent lab work, but age is not a reason to put off needed surgery. When it is done, it can add years to a pet’s life.
Anesthesia and surgical techniques continue to improve year after year. There is inherent risk involved, but the entire process can be safely managed, especially in a stable patient. The benefits certainly outweigh the dangers.
Dr. Amy Hellard
West Chester Veterinary Care