While most pet owners know their beloved companion’s dental cleanings are relatively similar to their own, they don’t know the details of what we do during their pet’s cleanings. Since dental care is such an important part of your pet’s overall health and well-being, we want to ensure that pet owners understand what we do to keep their pet’s mouth in tip-top shape, and know the procedures we follow during a routine dental cleaning. We’ve created this step-by-step guide that highlights your pet’s day at the “dentist.”
Step 1: Pre-anesthetic blood work
The first step is the most important step. To ensure that we choose the correct anesthetic protocol for your pet, we run pre-anesthetic blood work on all our patients. Blood tests provide information about your pet’s organ function, hydration status, and glucose level, and whether she’s anemic or has an underlying infection. If her blood work indicates any abnormalities, we may not proceed with your pet’s procedure. Some pets may need additional diagnostic testing to get to the root of an issue that the pre-anesthetic blood work revealed, and we will take care of the problem before putting your pet under anesthesia. For pets whose blood work shows no issues, we can proceed to our next step.
Step 2: Anesthesia induction
While anesthesia always has risks, we take every precaution to ensure your pet has a safe procedure. To begin, we place an intravenous (IV) catheter so we always have access to your pet’s vein to administer life-saving medications in an emergency. We also run fluids throughout your pet’s procedure to help maintain blood pressure, and to help the kidneys flush out the anesthetic drugs. Once we have the IV catheter placed, and your pet has been premedicated with a sedative and pain medication combination, we are ready to use an anesthetic agent to put your pet completely under anesthesia, so she is unconscious and unaware. We protect her airway with a breathing tube that also provides oxygen and anesthetic gas to keep her asleep. While your pet is under anesthesia, we monitor her vital signs using equipment with state-of-the-art technology that quickly alerts us to any issues.
Step 3: Digital dental X-rays
As much as 60% of a tooth can lie below the gumline, making detection of disease, infection, root problems, or bone loss impossible without dental X-rays. During each dental procedure, no matter how clean your pet’s teeth look, we take full-mouth dental X-rays to ensure she has no dental disease signs.
Step 4: Dental charting and assessment
Since your pet is fully anesthetized, we can easily assess each tooth for signs of disease, infection, or fractures. We also chart missing or loose teeth, potential future problems, and teeth that are currently causing issues.
Step 5: Treatment of diseased teeth
Although we are not a dentistry specialty practice, we offer some dental treatments for diseased teeth. Depending on your pet’s issue, we may be able to save her teeth, but extraction may be necessary if they are in bad shape.
Step 6: Tooth scaling
To ensure your pet has a healthy smile, we remove the buildup of plaque and tartar, including the accumulation below the gumline. We first remove large pieces of tartar, and then the remaining tartar on each tooth is cleaned with a hand-held scaler above the gumline, a curette below the gumline, and an electric dental scaler.
Step 7: Tooth polishing
After all the plaque and tartar has been removed, we polish your pet’s teeth to buff out the microabrasions that the hand-held and electric scalers leave on the tooth enamel. Polishing the teeth helps smooth their surface to prevent future plaque buildup.
Step 8: Fluoride treatment
At the end of your pet’s dental cleaning, we apply a layer of fluoride foam to help stop decay, and prevent dental caries.
Step 9: Recovery from anesthesia
After we’ve wiped off the excess fluoride and ensured each tooth looks pristine and in good health, we allow your pet to wake up and recover from anesthesia. We will turn off the anesthetic gas, but still let her breathe fresh oxygen through her breathing tube for a few minutes while we prep her cozy, warm bed. After disconnecting her from the oxygen, we monitor her temperature, and her heart and respiratory rates, as she recovers. Once your pet is alert enough to swallow, we remove her breathing tube so she doesn’t chew it, and when she is fully awake and standing, she is ready to go home with minty fresh breath and a shining smile.
Does your pet’s breath need professional help? Give us a call to schedule a dental cleaning.