According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, by age three more than half of dogs and cats suffer from dental problems. By the time they turn four, at least 85% show signs of periodontal disease (gum disease), a condition caused by plaque.

 Dental disease is painful for your pet and can cause a multitude of problems, including heart and liver infections. Regular brushing of your pet’s teeth at home goes a long way toward preventing disease and tooth loss, but it is not enough.

Like people, pets need professional dental exams and cleanings to avoid tooth decay. However, dogs and cats are not willing to sit still for 45 minutes of scraping and polishing. Although your veterinarian can perform a basic oral exam while your pet is awake, an anesthetic is required for thorough examinations and dental cleanings.

Dental cleanings that are done without an anesthetic will make your pet’s teeth prettier, but not healthier. Without anesthesia, it isn’t possible to clean the inside surfaces of the teeth or under the gums where periodontal disease develops.

Veterinarians need to use sharp instruments, similar to those used for humans, to remove tartar, and a pet can easily be injured by these tools if it moves at the wrong time.