"Super, no need to do this whole "surgical extraction" thing and waste all that money then."
I'm pretty sure there's a special circle of hell reserved for bad veterinary staffers - for all eternity you are forced to wander through an endless wasteland of tight-fisted clients with 10-yr old Yorkies who steadfastly deny the existence of this "periodontal disease" you speak of. You are armed only with a "Pets Have Teeth, Too" brochure, and you alone must lift the shroud of ignorance from their eyes and bring them to the light of regular dental care before you can proceed to Purgatory.
The gehenna of Dental Health Month approaches.
Oh, sure, in theory it's a fantabulous idea - let's all pick a month to shower our clients with enlightening education about periodontal disease, and take some extra time to go over preventative at-home care techniques and the importance of dental cleanings. Let the knowledge flourish among ye. Hey, we can even offer a discount on dental procedures done during February as an incentive. Yay!
Our base dental cost for dogs (anesthesia, dental cleaning and polishing, X-rays, pre-surgical Rimadyl injection, and go-home antibiotics) now exceeds $400. Yup, that's without the recommended pre-surgical bloodwork, IV cath, or OraVet. And extractions? Hahhahhahahahaha. Sigh.
Granted, if people would stop hitting the mental "mute" button whenever we mention dental care during Fluffykin's annual exam and invest a little time/money in brushing teeth, feeding t/d, using OraVet, chlorhexidine chews/rinses, SOMETHING other than NOTHING - Fluffykin probably wouldn't need an $1100 dental and his canines and molars wouldn't be scattered on the surgery room floor.
I wish it wasn't so expensive, but 1.) we only have 1 surgery table, so time-consuming dentals have to be comparable in cost to other surgeries we could be performing at the time (according to Boss Vet) 2.) many dental cleanings could have been significantly delayed or prevented if the owner would have invested in at-home care.
Still, those rationales don't help much when I feel my soul withering under the death glare of the client as I go over the $400+ estimate. But, erm, you get a discount. No, not on the whole thing. Just the cleaning. Please stop looking at me like that.
My cat is very prone to packing on the tartar, and if I were to do nothing he would work up a horrible infection at warp speed - I know this, so I feed him dry food, give him a couple C.E.T. dental chewies a day and brush his teeth a couple times a week. He's not too thrilled with the brushing, but that's just too bad. I check his mouth a once a month just to make sure the tartar isn't re-appearing - it rarely does, but when it does I can pin him down and scrape it off with my fingernail. During his annuals, I do a good dental scrape (no sedation needed). Total yearly cost? Probably $60.
Moral of the story? Find a way to take care of your pet's teeth AT HOME. In the end, you'll save a small college fund worth of money and your pet will keep his/her teeth around for awhile. Oh, and all that kidney/liver/heart damage stuff.