Although you may not realize it, your pet needs as much dental care as you do to maintain healthy gums and teeth. And, while toothbrushing is an excellent way to care for your furry pal’s oral health at home—especially if you brush daily—regular brushing is no match for a professional veterinary dental cleaning. A toothbrush alone can’t safely clean the hidden plaque and tartar below your pet’s gumline, nor polish away microabrasions in the tooth enamel that can attract future tartar. A professional dental cleaning allows our team to thoroughly examine your pet’s mouth under anesthesia to search for concealed issues, take full-mouth dental X-rays, and treat any periodontal problems we may find, all while keeping your pet safe and pain-free.

Now that you know the difference between professional and at-home dental care, you may wonder about the steps involved with a dental cleaning, and how your own cleaning differs. The key difference between human and pet dental cleanings is that pets are anesthetized to keep them free from pain, fear, and anxiety during the procedure. Let’s break down each step in a professional dental cleaning performed at Animal Dental Clinic.

Step 1: Complete a preanesthetic evaluation of your pet

Before your pet undergoes anesthesia, we check their health status with a comprehensive physical exam and a full blood work panel. If your pet has an underlying health condition, such as an infection, dehydration, or anemia, we may postpone their dental procedure. Additionally, a preanesthetic evaluation lets us know if your pet’s chronic condition is being maintained or has worsened since their last check-up with their primary care veterinarian. 

Step 2: Create a customized anesthetic protocol for your pet

Based on your pet’s preanesthetic evaluation, our team will tailor them an individualized anesthetic protocol. We often see older pets with health issues, such as heart, kidney, and liver disease, so we are well-versed in devising personalized anesthetic plans. Once we’ve determined the safest medications, we will place an intravenous (IV) catheter in your pet and administer their premedication cocktail that will relax them and provide preemptive pain control.

Step 3: Induce anesthesia in your pet

After your furry pal’s premedication has made them comfortably relaxed, we induce anesthesia with an injectable agent. Once your pet is asleep, we ensure they remain unconscious by placing a breathing tube that supplies anesthetic gas and fresh oxygen. To help us monitor your pet’s vital signs and ensure they remain safe during anesthesia, we hook them up to a plethora of monitoring equipment that informs us about their heart rate and rhythm, respiratory rate, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, and blood pressure.

Step 4: Take full-mouth dental X-rays of your pet

Before we begin cleaning your pet’s teeth, we want to know if they have any problems in addition to tartar. Since up to 60% of the tooth structure lies below the gumline, we take full-mouth X-rays to search for bone loss, fractured teeth, bony oral tumors, or abscesses. Without dental X-rays, many problems would remain concealed, and continue to cause pain and disease for years.

Step 5: Chart periodontal problems in your pet

We will add any issues we see on your pet’s X-rays to their dental chart. We will also carefully examine their entire oral cavity for ulcers, masses, and other abnormalities, and check for visible tooth problems. This dental chart allows us to monitor your pet’s oral health over the years, and to create a treatment plan for any issues we find that day.

Step 6: Remove plaque and tartar from your pet’s teeth

At this point, we’re ready to remove the source of infection and disease from your pet’s mouth by scaling away plaque and tartar. Using hand tools and an ultrasonic scaler, our licensed veterinary technician (LVT) removes all buildup from above and below the gumline. 

Step 7: Polish your pet’s teeth smooth

Once the teeth are plaque- and tartar-free, we polish them smooth. Microabrasions are commonly left behind after scaling, and normal wear and tear can “dent” your pet’s enamel. Polishing restores the teeth to a smooth surface that makes plaque and tartar accumulation more difficult. 

Step 8: Perform necessary dental services or extractions

Depending on your pet’s dental plan, we may perform additional services, such as extractions, root canals, or restorative bonding. We may also perform the advanced services separate from the routine dental cleaning, based on the problem’s severity and your pet’s health.

Step 9: Apply a fluoride treatment or oral sealant to your pet’s teeth

When your pet’s teeth are sparkling, we may apply a fluoride treatment or oral sealant to help strengthen the enamel and prevent future plaque and tartar accumulation.

Step 10: Recover your pet from anesthesia

Once we’ve completed all your pet’s dental care needs, we recover them from anesthesia. Our LVT closely monitors their vital signs as they return to consciousness, ensuring they are calm, comfortable, and pain-free. Once your pet is fully awake, they are ready to return home, where you will enjoy their minty fresh kisses.

Is your furry pal due for a thorough professional dental cleaning to remove plaque and tartar from below the gumline? Give our Animal Dental Clinic team a call to schedule your pet’s cleaning and give them the gift of a healthy smile.