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Which type of teeth cleaning is best for my dog?

Brown and white whippet, side view (Photo: Flickr/Seongbin Im)

Can he hold still long enough? (Photo: Flickr/Seongbin Im)

Which type of teeth cleaning is best for my dog?

August 21, 2012

Q: Would anesthesia-free teeth cleaning be a better option for a 9-year-old whippet? He hasn't had a cleaning for about 4 or 5 years. Last time was with anesthesia and he tolerated it, but the breed has such high metabolism that I heard it is risky.

A: Anesthesia-free dental cleanings have to be look at as far as what they can truly achieve. Basically the providers are expecting a pet to hold still so they can use a hand-held dental scraper to scrape off the visible plaque/tartar. They aren't going to get under the gum line, in between the teeth, the back part of the oral cavity (as the dog won't open wide enough for that long), and the lingual side (the side of the teeth next to the tongue).

Thus, they are probably not going to be able to clean or knock tartar off of about 25% of the entire surface area of the teeth in the mouth. This using of the dental scraper will then leave micro-etches in the enamel that will let tartar come back even quicker, unless a very good polishing is done. This polishing is done with a dental polisher in a veterinary office and I can't say that a hand polishing will be as effective.

Honestly, the non-anesthesia cleanings are more aesthetically pleasing for a short period of time, and I can't say I recommend them. I recommend the full dental anesthesia with your veterinarian, and then good at-home dental care to maintain what it achieves.

-- Answer provided by Dr. Bruce, a veterinarian on JustAnswer.

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