Posted : 8/18/2011 10:39:40 AM
More and more vets are recommending cleaning because it's becoming more well known that teeth health impacts the heart and every other organ in the body. Bacteria from the mouth can be a leading cause of heart problems both with humans and dogs. Keeping teeth clean is a HUGE help to longevity generally.
Extraction is VERY common -- when we took Kee Shu almost 6 years ago my vet had to pull 14 teeth. But they really get beyond that and she even crunched kibble/treats when she wanted to.
I take my ever-present treat bag to the vet -- I make a small baggie for the staff (or take a toy if they have to be fasted) as well so they leave the dog IN a crate they get a treat or get a toy. But my dogs at this point think the vet is the funnest place EVER and the vet and their staff love to be the "good guys" and dole out treats.
Try recreational bones -- things like raw chicken backs ROCK for cracking off tartar from teeth. Take off the skin and excess fat, and I generally plunge them into boiling water only for 5 seconds to kill bacteria and then store in the fridge. (I don't like thawing frozen stuff because by the time it thaws bacteria can grow again). You just DO NOT COOK bones!!
But even long marrow bones, or shortribs can be great recreational bones periodically and it cleans teeth. Always a crate treat (you don't want grease all over) but it really reduces tartar.
Then when I have a dog with a crappy mouth (Foxy the MOstlie Sheltie had the worst -- that narrow sheltie mouth was hard-wired for dental problems) I have their teeth done every year. AT this point my vet doesn't sedate with oral meds. He just masks them down as needed to do the dental. The high risk of "surgery" comes with that combo of the sedative and anesthetic far more than just the anesthetic.