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Dental Recommended For Truman, My 3-Year-Old


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At Truman's annual wellness exam last month, his vet said we should start thinking about scheduling a dental. Most of the teeth look fine, but his molars and canines have a bit of hard, brown tartar that didn't seem to be going away. Even though he's only 3, she said she's rather get it done more prophylactically, and "nip it in the bud" before any major problems begin. They aren't anticipating any extractions.

 

The dental itself costs about $500 (although it's expensive, the price the same across the board for most vets in our area). It will include pre-anesthetic blood testing, scaling, sub gingival pocket cleaning, polishing, SANOS sealants, as well as the anesthetic and any sedatives, pain meds and antibiotics he'll require. I'm confident that they'll do a great job. But I'm just a little reluctant to go through with the stress and financial commitment if it's not 100% necessary yet. As most of you know, he's a very anxious and does NOT get along with other dogs. I worry that this could be traumatizing to him. Considering Henry's multiple, extensive, health issues, I usually agree to whatever the vet suggests and sign the bill. But this is one time I'm not so sure. Is it worth it to put him through this whole ordeal?

 

I should add that I am completely OCD about both dogs' teeth. We have a daily routine of brushing, 2x daily application of Petzlife (gel and spray), Dental Fresh water additive, daily Dentastix, and twice weekly RMBs (Primal brand buffalo marrow bones). I know this is might be somewhat controversial, but I also started doing "standing dentals" with a dental scaler from time to time to chip off the tartar that builds up (mostly molars and canines). Over the last few weeks, I have gradually been able to eradicate all the surface tartar, so that the teeth do look nice and white now. Breath seems fine. I've discussed this with the vet, who is still recommending the dental. She said that removing the tartar is mostly cosmetic and doesn't do much for periodontal disease that might be lurking under the gumline.

 

Opinions on whether I should schedule him, or wait? Or get a second opinion with a veterinary dentist? I don't know what to do.

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i scheduled three year old Xavi for a dental, also. It's more "preventative" than anything else. The cost is about the same. I may or may not go through it hit, depending on if Iker needs one.

 

You can do everything you can to take care of a dog's teeth, but unfortunately genetics gets in the way.

Edited by robinw

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Guest greyhoundgirl1

I suggest you use K-9 Pearly Whites which are in the Pa, NJ area. I have an older grey which I do not want to put under anesthesia.(she had a bad reaction to anesthesia about 4 yrs ago) I brush her teeth every day and use a canine oral rinse to wipe her teeth down with. I have been using K9PW for the past couple of yrs. They run about $175-200 for new clients and loyal customers. I have been extremely satisfied. Go to their website, it is very informative and the people are terrific. Recently a friend took her nearly 12 yr old and they did a greyt job on her teeth even though she is not fastidious with her dental care as you and I are. I am not a big fan of using anesthesia on greys if it's not a life threatening situation. Too many greys have had bad & fatal anesthesia events. Good luck and keep us posted.

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Guest normaandburrell

How aggressive is your vet about invasive procedures? Our vet never recommended dental cleanings for our first grey, mainly because of our efforts. But every time we saw the other vets in the practice, they would. We never had a dental done, and that dog never had dental problems. We are going through the same thing with our new hound. We trust our regular vet more, and we always try to see him instead of the other vets in the practice. Of course, he's the senior vet in the practice and teaches veterinary students and residents.

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I'll refrain from any comments regarding "free standing dentals" but, I will comment on the importance of performing a dental prophy sooner rather than later. The time to do a cleaning is before periodontal disease is noted. Remember the more you put it off the older they get and the more the dental disease will progress. It's much better to clean teeth rather than extract them. If your seeing tartar then, it's time. I'm not sure seeing a dentist will be more benefical except they will perform intraoral radiographs accessing the health/pathology of each tooth (you didn't mention that your current vet performs oral rads). Intraoral radiographs are becoming the standard of care. It's amazing how much you pick up on the rads that normally would have went unnoticed. IMO your doing a disservice to not do them.

February is dental month-most clinics discount their dental services in Feb-perhaps they would extend the discount a few days??

The next dental discount month is typically in August--perhaps your vet feels the cleaning could wait until then?

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It's amazing how much you pick up on the rads that normally would have went unnoticed. IMO your doing a disservice to not do them.

February is dental month-most clinics discount their dental services in Feb-perhaps they would extend the discount a few days??

The next dental discount month is typically in August--perhaps your vet feels the cleaning could wait until then?

 

Tracy, she did not suggest doing the rads. I think she was more interested in doing a cleaning and trying the SANOS sealants on him. I don't know how effective they are, but they're supposed to provide an added protection for a year. I guess my thought was... in an otherwise healthy 3-year-old... in a home where we take dental care very seriously... and I was able to easily scale off the tartar that was the original cause for concern... is this something we need to do right now?

 

Oh, and I did inquire about February being dental month. They offered a whopping $50 discount. -_-

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I'm not a big fan of having dentals done as often as vets are suggesting. While there is a raised risk of infection from teeth that get very bad, there is also a risk of rare complications (like death) from doing non-medically necessary procedures. If your dog needs to have another procedure like a biopsy, then that's a great time to get the teeth done. Putting dogs (like people) under anesthesia is risky and while my dogs (especially Larry) have gone through their fair share, I'd rather not do it for procedures that can get delayed. Also, a dental is often done by the technician without the vet present and while there are arguments on both sides why this is safe or not safe, I don't want to have my dogs going through a procedure that can last up to an hour without having a vet present. Think about it, this would not be done on a person unless an anesthesiologist was present or in close proximity with very formal monitoring procedures. Another pet peeve of mine, most vets also do not understand the issues with greyhound bleeding and many do not follow up with amicar or even suggest limiting anti-clotting agents prior to surgery (like fish oil).

 

Having said all this, I would still do dentals but, under certain situations and the one that you presented that there is some buildup would not qualify especially given the young age.

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Jack, who is three just had his first dental. He does have a dead tooth that I wanted to be checked out and vet had recommended a dental. Jack had tartar on canines and back molars, it wasn't awful but I wanted to stay ahead of it. Jack's dental did included dental rads, bloodwork, urinalysis, cleaning, scaling and polishing, one day of hospitalization as well as anesthesia and IV/fluids. Dental month discount was 50.00. Cost was 299.00, if he needed the dead tooth pulled it would have been more expensive. At discharge I got a before and after color picture of his teeth as well as a chart which evaluated the health of each tooth based on radiographs and oral evaluation. Money well spent. Honestly I am not great about brushing his teeth but will try harder now.

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in a home where we take dental care very seriously... and I was able to easily scale off the tartar that was the original cause for concern... is this something we need to do right now?

 

Yes. You may be able to remove some surface tartar by picking at it, but this is the same reason why I see dogs come in with tooth root abscesses after having "anesthetic free" dentals. The problem area is under the gums, just as it is in humans. You're not getting under there by picking tartar off. You're also not proving and charting teeth for possible problem areas. You're not getting a good look at that far back molar.

 

And what do you define as "necessary". He has tartar and therefore early dental disease. It is necessary to clean his teeth to prevent infection, bone loss, and gum recession. I think that's pretty necessary. If, however, your definition of necessary is terrible dental disease with multiple extractions... then I suppose it's not necessary. (And I don't mean that to be flippant, just to try to add perspective to this word "necessary".)

 

Also, I'd like to address cost. It bothers me that people always make a big deal about how expensive dentals are. Now, I'm not denying that $500 is a lot of money. It absolutely is. But, to me the connotation of "dentals are expensive" is that vets overcharge, and I can never understand how people feel that way. Veterinary dental care is actually cheaper than human. I recently went in for a cleaning, x-rays, and had one wisdom tooth pulled. My bill was $1100. The cleaning was close to $300, and the ONE extraction was $675. If I did the same for a dog it would have been around $800-900 probably, including bloodwork and anesthetic. The difference is most of us have dental insurance. I paid $250 after insurance. So I'm not debating whether it costs a lot of money, but I am against the idea that dentals are "too expensive".

 

I think what it comes down to is this: do you trust your vet? I have never told someone their dog or cat needed a procedure if they didn't. That is the honest truth. That doesn't mean that owners always believe me. I recently saw a dog that had broken a tooth on a bone. A piece of bone was stuck in the fracture site causing the dog to paw at his face constantly for 3 days. I had to sedate the dog because he was so painful I couldn't go near his face. I showed the owner the broken tooth. I showed him the places where gum had receded so much that you could see the roots of the teeth. I showed him how foul and disgusting the saliva in his dog's mouth was (I seriously gagged at one point putting my hands in there). And after all that, he never booked that poor dog in for his dental... because it's not "necessary" and his dog didn't "need it". Do you trust your vet? If yes, then do the dental. If no, it's time to find a new vet.

 

Just my thoughts, and I really don't mean for any of it to be flippant or inflammatory so I hope it doesn't come across that way, because that's not my intention. I know you always do your best for your boys, Alicia.

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Just my thoughts, and I really don't mean for any of it to be flippant or inflammatory so I hope it doesn't come across that way, because that's not my intention. I know you always do your best for your boys, Alicia.

 

Of course not! Thanks for weighing in. I always value your advice. :)

 

When it comes down to it, I do trust my vet. Given my relationship with them and my pets, I just wonder if they're used to me saying always "yes" to EVERYTHING without regard to cost... that they would recommend a procedure that is good preventatively, but isn't necessarily urgent. I'll give them a call and ask her how soon we should think about having it done. Then maybe I'll schedule them both together, and kill two birds with one stone.

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and you do have health insurance for your dogs, right? how about a call and find out exactly how much they cover? i think you might be talking about a similar ball park figure. then you can decide, the vet cleaning will be more thorough but Truman will go under..... :seesaw

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Here's my take on this--if you are not comfortable doing the prophy at this time don't. You need to be comfortable going forward-you know your dog the best. Ask your vet if waiting until August would be an option and inquire if they participate in August dental month. If you don't smell phooey breath then it's doubtful that Truman has a comprised tooth at this time. Be diligent with your daily brushing until then and obviously if an oral concern arises than you will address it at that time.

Regarding the dental prophy procedures MaryJane brought up--do not judge all clinics this way. You have very right to inquire on how each clinic performs their dents. I have always worked dents with 3's --one tech to scale, intraoral rads, chart etc, one tech to monitor parameters (Temp, EKG, O2, CO2, HR ...)and the vet will be present too. I have always had the attending veterinarian within eyeshot of the patient. Perhaps I have been blessed working in a professional atmsophere. The veterinarian will probe, review rads and perform extractions as well as access.

Edited by tbhounds
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Zip zero on dentals, unfortunately. :( It's considered "preventative."

One thing to keep in mind-if you have another procedure done at that same time as the dental (mass removal etc..) the insurance company will most likely cover a percentage of the entire bill. Food for thought :-)

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Zip zero on dentals, unfortunately. :( It's considered "preventative."

I believe you are with Healthy Paws, right? A majority of the costs of a dental come from the anesthesia and blood work. Last time Fenway had a dental, he also had a lump removed. They billed it as a "lump removal, plus dental cleaning" and HP covered the lump removal (ie majority) portion of the cost.

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I believe you are with Healthy Paws, right? A majority of the costs of a dental come from the anesthesia and blood work. Last time Fenway had a dental, he also had a lump removed. They billed it as a "lump removal, plus dental cleaning" and HP covered the lump removal (ie majority) portion of the cost.

 

Good thinking, guys. Not that I want anything to go wrong with him that would require surgery, but that's definitely something to consider.

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Of course not! Thanks for weighing in. I always value your advice. :)

 

When it comes down to it, I do trust my vet. Given my relationship with them and my pets, I just wonder if they're used to me saying always "yes" to EVERYTHING without regard to cost... that they would recommend a procedure that is good preventatively, but isn't necessarily urgent. I'll give them a call and ask her how soon we should think about having it done. Then maybe I'll schedule them both together, and kill two birds with one stone.

 

Good. :) It's something that I'm pretty passionate about, but passion and inflammation are kind of hard to decipher on the net.

 

I think this is a better choice of words than "necessary". Is it necessary? Yes. Is it urgent? Probably not. Urgent meaning... does it need to be done tomorrow or even this week? Probably not (but I haven't seen his mouth so obviously you should talk to your own vet about that). Needs to be done in the next 6 months? Probably a good idea if you want to avoid things getting worse, but again, ask for a timeline. I will often break down my "needs a dental" recommendation into 3 categories. 1. Needs dental ASAP... (like 6 months ago in some cases, others just asap because they're flirting with having major problems and we hopefully still have a chance to save teeth now) 2. Needs a dental but can probably wait 6-12 months. 3. Teeth are kind of dirty but not terrible and there's no obvious pathology... if the owner is diligent and brushes daily we can reassess in 6-12 months, but if they have no intention of doing any home care then a dental should be done in the next 6-12 months.

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non-track dog felix has good teeth- aside from the 4 canines that he, himself filed down on the crate(and it wasn't locked, he just like to chew on the crate???)

 

annie- who moved in at 2.5 had a dental when she came off the track. for the past 5 years the same diet, her's stink. it's genetics as you had mentioned. i know raw feeders who had their dogs teeth cleaned faithfully every 6 months by houndstooth, major extractions once they hit their double digits.

 

do i faithfully brush? i floss mine all the time.

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Out of curiosity, how are Kili's teeth? Do you have any issues with hers vs. Summit's? I have a much harder time with Truman's, and I wonder if it's those AKC genes.

 

I'm super lucky so far. They both have great teeth (knock on wood). Summit will be 10 this year and his teeth are better than when I got him. He's never needed a dental cleaning. Kili is only coming up 2.5 so she's still a baby, but so far her teeth are awesome as well.

 

I brush once daily, they get Healthy Mouth in their water, and I give dental chews a few times a week. But really it comes down to daily brushing and good genes.

Kristie and the Apex Agility Greyhounds: Kili (ATChC AgMCh Lakilanni Where Eagles Fly RN IP MSCDC MTRDC ExS Bronze ExJ Bronze ) and Kenna (Lakilanni Kiss The Sky RN MADC MJDC AGDC AGEx AGExJ). Waiting at the Bridge: Retired racer Summit (Bbf Dropout) May 5, 2005-Jan 30, 2019

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Do you/are you able to brush and/scale his teeth yourself....I just think that it may not be necessary to have the dental as he's so young.

 

My Johnny has just turned five and although he gets a bit of tartar I get it under control with brushing and chewing bones.

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If you trust your vet, really trust your vet, ask her whether this needs to be done asap, or can wait until there's another issue or until you get his anxiety better under control. My vet did dentals on Patrick every year--despite what we did at home, he just had crummy teeth. But she told me when she would no longer do anything involving anesthesia, she felt it was too risky.

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As you vet said, it's not about the tartar you can see (and get off yourself), but the stuff under the gumline that you can't see or get to. One thing to consider is that Trumi's young and healthy now - able to handle a dental and the anesthesia better than if he was older and had some sort of infection or problem with his teeth/mouth. You will probably get three or four more years before he'll need another one, all things being equal.

 

Ask about something to get him into the surgery if he gets freaked out - alprazolam or valium, maybe. And talk to his vet about minimizing his anxiety by bringing him in right before they can begin the procedure. You'd do all the bloodwork and presurgery stuff the day before.

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I would just express your concerns to your vet and see what she says. I understand where you're coming from completely from the financial aspect vs. whether it's necessary, etc. I just dish out money for my dogs and while I will always prioritize my dogs' care, that doesn't mean that I have that kind of cash lying around or couldn't REALLY use that money somewhere else. So yes, I want to be diligent and do what's best for my dogs, but I also don't want to spend money on things that aren't really necessary or could be put off temporarily while we try something less expensive. It's sort of the same thing as invasive procedures - I'd like to hold off on doing those unless we're certain they're necessary. In this case, you've got both (although I have to say, $500 start to finish on a dental would make me cheer - I went to Ohio the last time I got those prices ;) ).

 

Anyway, all of this to say, I think your concerns are reasonable and I think your vet should be able to give you more information so you can make a decision you are comfortable with.

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