In the last 9 years Rufus has had two anesthetic teeth cleanings, two extractions and about 5 non-anesthetic teeth cleanings. In 2009, our community received some information that suggested non-anesthetic teeth cleanings were good regular maintenance for our dachshunds – which notoriously have bad teeth as a breed. In October of this year DOGS sponsored a Canine Dental Care Presentation with Robert Furman, BVMS, MRCVS from Southern California Veterinary Dental Specialties. Dr. Furman helped us to understand fact from fiction.
We no longer endorse or recommend non-anesthetic teeth cleanings. Not only do they offer little benefit to our doxies, but they also can actually make matters worse because they can provide the illusion of a healthy mouth. Since Rufus has had mixed care in the last 9 years we elected to invest in him and see a canine dental specialist today. Specialists are often more expensive (as in human health care), and are usually reserved for those special circumstances that warrant one. We decided as a family Rufus is worth the expense. Rufus will be going under anesthesia today and anytime our dogs go under there’s a risk. However, I’m hopeful today will be uneventful and we’ll get a clean bill of health.
Dr. Furman candidly admits not everyone can afford him, and for regular maintenance (which all dogs 1 year and older should do) can be provided by a general veterinarian practitioner. However, he suggested asking the following of anyone working on your dog’s mouth: 1) Do they do radiographs!? Without radiograph you’re not getting a complete and comprehensive care. Otherwise, you’re simply addressing what you can see, and as in human dentistry, X-rays are necessary. 2) Who performs the cleaning?! A vet tech or the licensed vet!? Obviously it’s preferred that a veterinarian does the procedure. 3) When you’re doing your due diligence ask the vet, “How long does the procedure usually take!?” If they say 20 minutes, they’re probably not offering complete and comprehensive care. Dr. Furman explained that there are seven distinct steps in a proper dental cleaning (dental prophylaxis) which cannot be addressed in 20 minutes. He said a good thorough cleaning is at minimum 45 minutes. I asked all of these questions of my current vet and I’m happy to report they do radiographs and the vet performs the procedure himself. Since Emily and Lily are both young with healthy mouths, they will see my current vet until their situations require us to see Dr. Furman. Emily will get her first anesthetic teeth cleaning in 2014.
Knowledge is power and now that we know better, we’ll do better. Thanks in advance for your support today. I remain optimistic that all will go smoothly, but underneath it all, I’m a nervous nelly. I find comfort in knowing Dr. Furman is one of the best available, but I won’t be back to myself until Rufus is done with his procedure. I’ll update everyone via Facebook later today.