Myth #4: Old animals are not suitable candidates for dental treatments.
Basis for Myth: Generally, older patients have higher anesthetic risks and so some veterinarians feel the benefits of treatment do not justify these risks. In the past, anesthetic risks were higher and the level of dental treatment available lower and so the risks might not have been justified.
The Truth: Things have changed! It is true that some patients are too systemically ill to be candidates for a general anesthetic. However, no animal should be denied the benefits of proper dental care merely because they were born a long time ago. According to Veterinarian's Oath, we are sworn to prevent and relieve animal suffering. Many dental conditions are not only sources of chronic pain, but also serious sources of chronic septicemia (infection in the bloodstream). These situations have significant negative impact on both the quality and quantity of life for the patient. With our present resources for pre-operative diagnostic screening, intra-operative risk management and post-operative care, the risk of losing a patient to a general anesthetic has been greatly reduced (there is always a risk with any procedure in any patient). Also, the level of dental care available, particularly through referrals to veterinary dentists, has increased incredibly over the past 10 years. It is now safe to say that the risk versus the quality and quantity of life associated with dental treatment is less than the risk associated with dental neglect.