Dental exams are part of your pet's comprehensive annual physical exam. It is now recognized that overall dental health contributes significantly to your pet's overall well being and comfort as well as potentially increasing his/her lifespan and energy level in old age.
Anaesthesia free dental cleanings can help to promote oral health in between regular dental prophies under anaesthesia, but they do NOT replace assessment of disease and treatment while your animal is fully anesthetized. Dental cleanings on an awake pet are mainly cosmetic. A significant amount of tartar can be present under the gumline - an awake dog or cat will not allow you to use a sharp instrument underneath the gumline to remove tartar while having his/her mouth held open long enough to thoroughly clean all the teeth. There is controversy about dentistry under heavy sedation. Animals under sedation cannot be intubated and can thus aspirate material from the dental cleaning into the lungs, causing pneumonia.
Our new digital dental x-ray unit helps to look for missing or retained teeth, identifies hooks on roots, and shows us abscessed roots and possible bony changes in the jaw.
We have specialized equipment for rabbit and rodent dentistry as well. The days are long gone when rabbits' teeth were snipped off, which causes cracks in their teeth and further dental problems and pain. Rodents teeth differ from dogs' and cats' teeth in that they grow continuously.
Go to http://avdc.org/ownersinfo.html for further information on veterinary dentistry. This is the American Veterinary Dental College website and has a lot more information on veterinary dentistry.