Your pet is susceptible to many problematic dental conditions, and some may lead to significant issues that affect their overall health. Regular professional veterinary dental cleanings are the best way to protect your pet from these concerning problems. Our American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)-accredited team at Cherry Knolls Veterinary Clinic wants to help reduce your anxiety by explaining what you should expect when you bring your pet in for this procedure.

Your pet will receive a thorough physical examination

When you bring in your pet for a professional veterinary dental cleaning, we will perform a thorough physical examination, taking their temperature, and listening to their heart and lungs, to ensure they have no health issues that need addressing before we proceed with the cleaning. In addition, we will look inside their mouth, to get a general idea of their oral health status.

Your pet will need blood work

Our team will pull routine blood work, including a complete blood count and a biochemistry profile. These tests evaluate your pet’s immune status and kidney and liver function. We want to ensure they are healthy enough to undergo general anesthesia, and determine if we need to change their anesthesia protocol.

Your pet will undergo general anesthesia

Attempting to clean your pet’s teeth while they are awake does not allow us to properly address the area below the gum line. In addition, the procedure could injure your pet, or the veterinary professional performing the cleaning. Anesthetizing your pet ensures they do not experience any unnecessary stress, and allows our team to properly and thoroughly inspect and clean your pet’s entire mouth. An endotracheal tube will be placed to administer anesthetic gas and oxygen, and to prevent water and other materials from accidentally entering your pet’s lungs. During the cleaning, a trained professional will closely and continuously monitor your pet, recording vital signs, and changing their anesthesia level as needed. In some cases, numbing medication may be administered so your pet’s anesthesia level can be reduced. 

Your pet will need dental X-rays

Examining your pet’s mouth cannot accurately determine the extent of your pet’s periodontal disease. Bacteria invading your pet’s teeth-supporting structures can cause bone loss, which the naked eye cannot see, and can be appreciated only on X-rays. Other significant problems, such as dead or fractured teeth, tooth root abscesses, and jaw fractures, can be seen on X-rays. We will take the dental X-rays while your pet is under general anesthesia to ensure we get good views, and to prevent more stress for your pet.

Plaque and tartar will be removed from your pet’s teeth

Once your pet is safely under anesthesia, a dental scaling instrument will be used to remove the plaque and tartar from your pet’s teeth and under their gum line. Bacteria colonize food particles in your pet’s mouth, forming plaque. If not removed expeditiously, this plaque hardens, and becomes tartar. The bacteria can also encroach under your pet’s gum line, damaging the structures that support your pet’s teeth. Problems this bacterial invasion can cause include:

  • Halitosis — The bacteria cause your pet’s breath to be less than pleasant—having bacteria in their mouth can’t taste too good for your pet, either.
  • Pain — The bacteria cause inflammation and swelling of your pet’s gums, which may bleed when your pet eats or chews on toys. This inflammation can cause your pet chronic pain, which may make them irritable or unable to eat.
  • Loose teeth — As the tooth’s supporting structures are broken down, the tooth will become loose. Loose teeth may need extraction during your pet’s procedure.
  • Abscessed teeth — The bacteria can cause tooth root infections, which are extremely painful for your pet.
  • Fractures — In severe cases, bone loss can occur in the jawbones, resulting in fractures in cats and toy-breed dogs.
  • Organ injury — The bacteria can also travel in your pet’s bloodstream and damage their heart, kidneys, and liver.

Your pet’s teeth will be polished

Once all the plaque and tartar are removed, your pet’s teeth will be polished, to prevent bacteria from accumulating on the rough tooth surface. 

Your pet will need at-home dental care

A professional veterinary dental cleaning is the only way to effectively remove bacteria deposits below the gum line, but your pet also needs at-home dental care, to ensure good oral health between cleanings. Tips to promote your pet’s dental hygiene include:

  • Brush your pet’s teeth — Teaching your pet to accept their teeth being brushed is the best way to keep their mouth clean and healthy between professional dental cleanings. Never use human toothpaste on your pet, because these products can be toxic for pets. Pet-specific toothpastes are available in many pet-tempting flavors, such as poultry, beef, seafood, and peanut butter, to make brushing your pet’s teeth easy.
  • Provide dental chews — Chewing can scrub away plaque and tartar from your pet’s teeth, but avoid hard objects, which could potentially damage their teeth. Choose pet products approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC), to ensure the dental chew is effective. 

Your pet will appreciate a clean and healthy mouth. If you would like to schedule a professional veterinary dental cleaning, contact our Fear Free team at Cherry Knolls Veterinary Clinic, so we can ensure their gums and teeth remain healthy.