Last week we looked at how to examine teeth. This week we filmed a video of David examining Moss’ teeth. Not so great I’m afraid (lurchers have terrible problems with their teeth), so we decided to scale and polish them.
Dental scaling uses an ultrasonic probe (a metal probe vibrating VERY fast!) to gently shake any tartar (calculus) off the teeth. Tartar is the yellow/ brown stuff you see on teeth sometimes – it’s essentially plaque that has gone hard. Plaque is the slimy biofilm we can feel on our teeth before we brush them.
If we left it on the teeth then the bugs which find tartar a great place to live tend to cause erosion into the gums around the teeth. The teeth become loose and eventually fall out. In the meantime the breath stinks, the mouth becomes infected which can lead to body-wide problems and our pets can get really painful. Imagine your teeth getting brown and painful- too many of our pets suffer this every day.
Scaling needs to be done under an anaesthetic as it’s noisy and uncomfortable. If you’ve ever had it done at the dentist you know how hard it is to resist squirming away from the probe! I can confirm that I’ve never met a pet that would let us do a proper thorough job without an anaesthetic to keep them still. In the dim and distant past at a previous job I have seen pets have their teeth scaled whilst they were conscious. It was dangerous for them and the staff, it didn’t work brilliantly well and it induced a lifelong fear of the surgery.
Once all the tartar is removed then we need to look at how we’re going to keep them clean. Next week – tooth brushing!