10 Steps to a Healthy Smile: What Happens During Your Pet’s Professional Dental Cleaning

When your pet needs their teeth professionally cleaned, you may wonder how the cleaning differs from brushing their teeth at home, or from a visit to your own dentist. Follow along as we outline each step of your pet’s professional dental cleaning, and explain how we evaluate and care for their oral health.

Step 1: Your pet undergoes pre-anesthetic screening

Before pets undergo an anesthetic or surgical procedure, our team performs pre-anesthetic screening tests. A full physical exam, blood work, and additional testing as necessary gives us information about your pet’s overall health—namely their organ function and quantity of blood cells. This information allows us to create a customized anesthetic protocol that will keep your pet as safe as possible.

Step 2: We place your pet under anesthesia

As we anesthetize your pet, we support their blood pressure and organ function by running intravenous (IV) fluids through a catheter. We keep an IV catheter in your pet to ensure we have instant venous access should complications occur. We also keep your pet safe by using various equipment to monitor their heart rate and rhythm, respiratory rate, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, temperature, and more. Plus, a designated team member monitors your anesthetized pet’s comfort and sedation levels.

Step 3: A thorough oral exam is performed on your anesthetized pet

General anesthesia allows our team to perform a thorough oral exam on your pet that would otherwise be impossible. We carefully probe around each tooth to check for gingival recession, pockets, fractures, and pulp exposure. We also look for any abnormalities in the oral cavity, such as tumors or ulcers.

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

As much as 60% of each tooth lies below the gum line’s surface, making full-mouth dental X-rays an essential part of your pet’s complete oral health assessment. Dental X-rays can detect tooth-root abscesses, tooth fractures, jawbone loss, and retained teeth, which can cause your pet significant pain and disease.

Step 5: Any abnormalities in your pet’s mouth are noted and addressed

By using our oral exam and dental X-ray findings, we can determine if your pet has any dental abnormalities that need addressing. Diseased or fractured teeth, gingival hyperplasia, and oral tumors are problems that we can treat while your pet is already under anesthesia for their dental cleaning, and treating these issues can restore their oral health

Step 6: Large pieces of tartar are removed from your pet’s teeth

The first step in cleaning your pet’s teeth is to remove large tartar pieces using a special pair of forceps. By “cracking” off this tartar, we can efficiently clean your pet’s teeth, minimizing their time under anesthesia.

Step 7: Hand tools and an ultrasonic scaler remove all your pet’s plaque and tartar

Next, we use hand scaling tools and an ultrasonic scaler to remove the smaller pieces of plaque and tartar stuck deep in crevices and below the gum line. Both the inner, tongue-side, and the outer, cheek-side teeth surfaces are cleaned, to ensure all traces of oral bacteria are eradicated.

Step 8: Irregularities in the tooth enamel are smoothed away by polishing

Once the teeth are plaque- and tartar-free, we polish them, to smooth minor imperfections and microabrasions in the enamel. It’s more difficult for oral bacteria and plaque to stick and accumulate on smooth enamel.

Step 9: A fluoride treatment is applied to protect your pet’s teeth

The final step in your pet’s professional dental cleaning is a fluoride treatment. Fluoride helps strengthen tooth enamel, making teeth more impervious to disease.

Step 10: Your pet recovers from anesthesia and returns home

After we are done cleaning your pet’s teeth and addressing any issues, such as extracting diseased teeth, we will recover your pet from anesthesia. During their recovery period, we will watch for pain signs, to ensure they wake up comfortably. Once your pet can walk, they can return home to you with minty fresh breath and a healthy smile.

Is your pet’s breath less than fresh? Maybe you’ve noticed grey or yellow tartar buildup on their teeth? Keep your furry pal’s smile healthy by contacting our Kennedy Heights Animal and Bird Hospital team for a dental cleaning appointment.