A prophylactic and personalized dental cleaning minimizes your pet’s unnecessary suffering, improves their overall health, and enhances their quality of life. Here’s what to expect from your pet’s Dr. Treat professional dental cleaning.
Like people, pets need routine professional dental cleanings to remove plaque and tartar, evaluate tooth structure and roots, and assess the oral cavity for dental disease signs. Unfortunately, many pets don’t receive proper dental care until dental disease is well-established and causing them significant pain.
Our Dr. Treat mission is to provide your pet with exceptional and individualized preventive care—including periodic dental cleanings—before obvious problems arise. This prophylactic and personalized approach minimizes your pet’s unnecessary suffering, improves their overall health, and enhances their quality of life. Plus, once your pet’s mouth is healthy, those snuggle sessions are a lot more pleasant. Here’s what to expect from your pet’s Dr. Treat professional dental cleaning.
The role of general anesthesia in veterinary dentistry
Anesthesia is the most common concern pet owners have about their pet’s dental cleaning and the most frequent reason they postpone their furry pal’s professional dental care. However, general anesthesia is absolutely necessary during your pet’s professional dental cleaning to ensure the safest, most comfortable, and most comprehensive dental procedure, which includes dental X-rays, cleaning, polishing, and necessary oral surgery. Anesthesia ensures that your pet remains completely still during the entire procedure, which is essential to their protection and that of our team—who are operating in close proximity to your pet’s mouth. Anesthetized pets also benefit from being completely pain- and stress-free, because of the long-lasting sedative and analgesic medications.
We understand your concerns regarding your pet’s anesthesia and recognize these trepidations can pose a major stumbling block to your furry pal’s consistent dental care. Rest assured, to ensure every pet has a smooth, comfortable, and low-risk professional dental experience, our Dr. Treat veterinary team follows only the most advanced anesthesia protocols and safety measures.
Anesthesia safety measures for pets
To ensure your pet is fit for anesthesia, the Dr. Treat anesthetic protocol begins with thorough preanesthetic testing and assessment. Your pet’s preanesthesia evaluation includes:
Your pet’s Dr. Treat veterinarian will perform a brief physical assessment that includes listening to your pet’s heart and lungs.
Blood work results provide key insights about your pet’s organ health, especially their liver and kidneys, which metabolize and excrete anesthesia medications.
Heart function is an important parameter for anesthetic fitness. Preanesthetic testing includes an electrocardiogram (ECG) to assess electrical activity in your pet’s heart muscle.
Your pet’s Dr. Treat veterinarian will develop an individualized anesthesia plan—including medications and dosages—based on your pet’s test results and their individual characteristics (e.g., breed, age, pre-existing conditions).
“Once your pet’s professional dental assessment is complete, your veterinarian will record all findings and measurements in your pet’s medical chart. They will use this information to design your pet’s personalized dental treatment plan”
Digital dental X-rays for pets
Most dental disease occurs below the gumline where harmful plaque bacteria accumulate and destroy the vulnerable tooth root. Dental radiography (i.e., X-rays) allows your veterinarian to see below the visible crown and examine the entire tooth structure and surrounding bone. These images help pinpoint early disease and inform your pet’s treatment plan, which may include extractions (i.e., tooth removal), antibiotics, or protective measures to stop the disease process and preserve the tooth and the surrounding architecture.
Comprehensive oral exam for pets
After your Dr. Treat veterinarian has reviewed your pet’s dental X-rays, they will visually assess your four-legged friend’s entire oral cavity—including each tooth, their gums (i.e., gingiva), hard and soft palate, tongue, maxilla and mandible (i.e., upper and lower jaw), and their upper airway. Your veterinarian will also assess each tooth for periodontal pockets (i.e., gaps between the tooth and the gum)—dental disease’s tell-tale sign. In addition, your veterinarian will evaluate surrounding oral structures for abnormalities such as tissue discoloration, inflammation, swelling, gingival overgrowth, and tumors. Once your pet’s professional dental assessment is complete, your veterinarian will record all findings and measurements in your pet’s medical chart. They will use this information to design your pet’s personalized dental treatment plan.
Dental scaling and tooth polishing for pets
Your pet’s professional dental cleaning is extremely similar to yours, especially the scaling and polishing process. A trained and licensed veterinary technician will scale and polish your pet’s teeth, using a specialized ultrasonic scaler—which employs sound waves rather than manual pressure—to safely break down and remove visible and invisible tartar and plaque on a tooth’s surface. Unlike the manual scaling instruments usually used for humans’ professional dental cleanings, an ultrasonic scaler removes plaque below the gumline while a continuously flowing water jet flushes away loosened debris.
After your pet’s veterinary technician meticulously scales every tooth surface, they buff each tooth’s crown, using a high-speed polisher to smooth away invisible micro grooves created during the scaling process.
Dental extractions and oral surgery for pets
Damaged and diseased teeth cause your pet pain and infection, and can negatively affect surrounding teeth by eroding their jawbone. Uncontrolled dental disease can result in systemic illness as harmful bacteria enter the bloodstream and migrate to the heart, kidneys, and lungs.
Your veterinarian will visually assess your pet’s teeth and perform an X-ray assessment to determine whether your furry pal needs dental extractions. Although tooth removal seems drastic, tooth extractions are the most successful, economical, and efficient way to halt your four-legged friend’s dental pain and disease. Dogs and cats who undergo multiple extractions experience significant relief and enhanced comfort as soon as the affected teeth are removed. Perioperative (i.e., ongoing before, during, and after surgery) pain management, using injectable medications, local anesthetic blocks, and at-home oral pain medication, is integral to our standard of care.
In some cases, your veterinarian may recommend dental extractions for alternative reasons such as tooth crowding, malocclusion (i.e., misaligned bite causing inappropriate wear), or retained deciduous (i.e., baby or milk) teeth. In addition, your veterinarian may recommend other oral surgeries such as tumor removal, biopsy, root planing, and gingival resection. Our veterinary team will refer complex oral procedures to a board-certified veterinary dentist.
Post-dental care for pets
After your pet’s dental cleaning, their pearly whites will be squeaky clean, but without appropriate post-dental and routine home care, their beautiful tartar-free smile will quickly fade. To maintain your pet’s oral health, ask your veterinarian to recommend an at-home dental care plan.
If your pet had tooth extractions or other oral surgery, you’ll be advised to feed them only soft foods (e.g., wet food, kibble softened in water) and restrict their access to hard chews or toys until their post-dental recheck 10 to 14 days after their dental procedure. Avoiding hard chews helps ensure the tissues at your pet’s oral incision site have time to heal. During your pet’s recheck appointment, you’ll receive personalized home care strategies and recommendations for preserving your pet’s oral health. For more information on at-home pet dental care, check out our previous article.
Our Dr. Treat team’s professional dental cleanings—along with diligent at-home oral care—is the best way to preserve or restore your pet’s oral health. When you become a Dr. Treat One™ member, our new breed of innovative and compassionate veterinary professionals provide your pet with our state-of-the-heart care approach.