Our dentists want us to brush our teeth twice daily, at least floss daily, and perhaps even use a mouthwash. The goal is to keep the mouth as clean as possible. Yes, it makes greeting other people a more pleasant experience, but it also keeps our bodies healthier. There are links between dental disease, heart disease, kidney disease and overall comfort. Pets are no different. The gold standard for pet dental care would be to brush your pet’s teeth nightly with an appropriate pet toothpaste. Some pets are not too happy with that. Alternatives can be rinses and chews.
But there comes a time when the veterinarian says it is time to professionally clean the teeth. Having your dog’s or cat’s teeth cleaned is much more involved than the six month checkup that we have. The veterinarian does a physical examination, bloodwork is evaluated and a decision is made that proceeding with anesthesia is in the best interest of the patient.
Once the decision has been made then anesthesia is required. Anesthesia allows the patient to be comfortable and pain free for the duration of the procedure. Dental radiographs are taken of every tooth root. 4% of dental problems like broken roots or infections are diagnosed with radiographs.
Each tooth is evaluated for stability – if it is loose. We also check pockets along the gum line where food can be trapped, or for fractures of the tooth at the crown (the part we can see).
The crown of the tooth, as well as below the gum line, is cleaned. This would be similar to a deep planing procedure in humans. If pockets need to be treated or teeth need to be extracted, those would also be performed. Then the teeth are polished and a sealant is applied. The sealant will last about two weeks.
Patients can go home once they are fully awake, which is about two to four hours after the procedure is finished.
After a couple of weeks, brushing, use of an oral rinse, and/or dental chews can be utilized. Based on what level of dental care your pet allows at home helps determine how frequently a professional cleaning will be needed. For many pets, it is an annual procedure.