So your pet needs a dental cleaning.
What should I expect?
A dental cleaning takes place in our veterinary office under general anesthesia. You will drop your pet off that morning on an empty stomach and pick them up that same day! The process of a dental cleaning procedure is very similar to a human’s visit to the dentist.
After your pet is anesthetized under the supervision of one of our veterinary technicians and a veterinarian, our veterinary technician will take extensive dental radiographs of every tooth in your pet’s mouth. We will then check all of the teeth, looking for things like fractures, decay, and pockets that sometimes form under the gumline (sometimes called periodontal pockets and, when infected, called abscesses).
Then, we will scale all of the bacteria and calculus off of your pet’s teeth, leaving them clean and fresh, as well as polish your pet’s teeth with a minty toothpaste. A veterinarian will then access your pet’s teeth, extracting any dead or diseased teeth.
Your pet will wake up comfortably under the supervision of our staff and be discharged to you a few hours later. At the time of discharge, our veterinary technicians will go over the findings of your pet’s dental cleaning. We will show you the dental radiographs and explain any findings to you.
Then, we will go over what we call a dental chart, which is a diagram of your pet’s mouth, and we will explain any visual findings to you as well. At this time, we are happy to go over any at-home dental care options that you are interested in pursuing.
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is a process in which bacteria attaches to teeth over time and starts to calcify when mixed with your pet’s saliva. It has four stages to its development. When left alone, it will eventually collect over all surfaces of the teeth.
When this bacteria starts to calcify, it turns into a hard “shelf” on the tooth for bacteria to collect on, sometimes collecting underneath the gum line to cause inflammation called Gingivitis. Gingivitis is commonly seen in pets and even in humans. The main signs of Gingivitis include redness of the gumline, pain, swelling, and sometimes even active bleeding.
It is considered one of the beginning stages of periodontal disease. If left untreated, periodontal disease will continue to progress into the later stages. Once the hard calculus shelf of bacteria sits on your pet’s teeth for a long time, it can lead to infection around the tooth’s root. This is due to all of that bacteria collecting under the gum line on that calcified “shelf”.
Eventually, the bacteria starts to eat away at the tooth root and can cause loose teeth and even loss of teeth. This process can be painful to your pet and cause bad breath and sometimes even changes in their eating habits.
It is easy to treat periodontal diseases at the earlier stages before the teeth become fully diseased. It is recommended that your pet have an oral/dental exam once yearly to check for signs of Gingivitis or infection. It is also recommended that your pet have yearly dental cleanings by trained veterinary staff. Once your pet has had a dental cleaning, it is in your hands to provide at-home dental care.