Interested in learning more about what a dental cleaning means for your pet? Our Step-By-Step guide will walk you through the procedure!
Before the Cleaning
The first step of every dental cleaning is a thorough physical exam by your veterinarian. Because all animals are under anesthesia during a cleaning, it is vital that your veterinarian evaluates your pet’s total health to ensure they are healthy enough for anesthesia. Every animal will have a Complete Blood Count (CBC) and a Blood Chemistry Profile (BCP) performed to assess the body’s blood cell counts and organ functions so we can be sure your pet is able to fight infection, that their kidneys and liver are functioning well, and that we can tailor the anesthesia to your pet’s needs. A thyroid level test will also be done for all patients over 7 years old, or on any pet that shows signs of thyroid disease. If the doctor found any abnormalities during the physical exam, they may recommend additional diagnostic tests such as x-rays, ultrasound, or an EKG. This way they can best evaluate your pet’s level of health and make sure that they are able to safely undergo anesthesia.
When your pet arrives in the hospital an IV catheter will be placed to administer medication and maintain a healthy blood pressure. IV Fluids will be administered throughout the procedure using an IV fluid warmer, along with a warming blanket underneath your pet to maintain normal body temperature. An endotracheal tube is placed to maintain an open airway, and to administer oxygen and a gas anesthetic. A technician monitors your pet’s vitals closely, checking their blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature, and more every five minutes to ensure your pet is doing well.
Oral Assessment & Tartar Removal
Before cleaning begins, the technician will perform an oral examination. They look for the amount of tartar buildup, gingivitis, fractures, bleeding, foreign material, or any other abnormalities. Special tools are used to safely remove the hard tartar on your pet’s teeth. After the bulk of the tartar is removed we use an ultrasonic scaler, similar to the one used at your dentist’s office, to eliminate the remainder. Tartar is removed both above and below the gumline.
After the cleaning process is complete, our dental technician will take digital x-rays of each tooth. These x-rays will show your veterinarian if your pet has any abnormalities below the gum line or within the tooth that can’t be seen during a routine oral exam.
Sometimes, your veterinarian may recommend extracting some teeth. A tooth will only be extracted if it causes pain or is at risk for infection, and there are no other treatment options. Reasons for extractions include loose teeth, pulp exposure, tooth root abscesses, bone loss, fractured teeth, retained baby teeth, and cavities. Your veterinarian will only recommend extraction if it is absolutely necessary. These conditions can cause extreme pain that your pet cannot tell you about. Infection in the mouth can also cause infection in other parts of the body and affect major organ systems.
After an extraction, an appropriate pain medication will be prescribed to make sure your pet is comfortable. This may be continued at home for a few days, along with a diet change to soft food in order to allow the gums to heal. Any pet that has an extraction will have a return exam to check on the healing progress.
Polishing and Fluoride Therapy
Just like at your own dental appointments, polishing is an important part of the dental procedure. The smoother the tooth surface after a cleaning, the harder it is for plaque to start accumulating.
A fluoride treatment is applied at the end of the dental cleaning. Fluoride helps to strengthen the teeth,, decrease sensitivity, and reduce future plaque build up.
After the procedure is complete your pet will be transferred to the recovery area. They will wake up on a comfortable cushion and covered by a warming blanket. One of our technicians will monitor them throughout the recovery process, and will contact you once they are awake so you know that all is well.
When you pick up your pet, a technician will review the x-rays with you and the veterinarian will be available to answer any questions. We will make sure you have all of the information you need regarding medications or special home care for after the procedure. Once your pet gets home, they may be more sleepy than usual or have a slight cough, but don’t worry! This is normal after a dental cleaning. As always, if you have any concerns, you can always contact us with questions.