When your pet is admitted to the hospital for a dental cleaning, it is usually after a recent physical exam that indicated that your pet had some level of periodontal disease, plaque accumulation or gingivitis. Your pet is then checked-in by one of our licensed technicians. At this time, pre-anesthetic blood work, if authorized by you, will be obtained. It is highly recommended that your pet have blood work done before any anesthetic procedure, as this gives the veterinarian an idea of how well your animal will metabolize the anesthesia and how fast it will be removed from the body. If there are any concerns, the dental procedure may be delayed until any underlying problems are addressed.
The attending veterinarian will then do a pre-anesthetic exam. Once your pet has been cleared for surgery, pre-surgical medications will be given and then anesthesia induced. Once the airway is secured with an endotracheal tube, anesthesia is maintained by a constant measured flow of anesthetic gas and oxygen. Your pet is kept warm by lying on a warm circulating water blanket, is covered by warmed towels or a blanket, is placed on heart, respiratory, blood pressure and body temperature monitors, and is directly observed at all times by a licensed technician. The entire procedure will be supervised by your veterinarian. The basic cleaning is performed by a licensed technician; extractions and all other oral surgeries are performed only by the veterinarian.
The supragingival (above the gum line) plaque and tartar are removed using special calculus forceps, hand instruments, and power scaling equipment. We examine individual teeth for mobility, fractures, malocclusion, and periodontal disease (probe for pocket depths after calculus is removed). Special curettes are used to probe the subgingival (below the gum line)spaces as well as remove any deposits. The information is recorded in the pets own dental chart.
Regardless of how careful we are during the scaling/curettage phase of teeth cleaning, minor defects of the tooth surface occur. Polishing smooths out the defects and removes plaque missed during previous steps. Pumice or polishing paste is used on a polishing cup for the procedure. Any excess paste or debris is flushed away when the teeth are rinsed. A fluoride foam can then be applied.
The pet owner is an integral part of our dental team. Home care is the single most important procedure the owner can do to maintain oral health. Regular brushing will dramatically increase the interval between teeth cleaning appointments.
Home care is best started at a young age before the adult teeth erupt. The perfect time to introduce dental home care is at the first puppy or kitten visit. The client-animal bond as well as the client-veterinary bond is enhanced when daily brushing is performed following instructions given at the animal hospital.
Clients often ask, "doesn't hard food keep teeth clean?" Some believe when their dog or cat chews on hard food or biscuits, mineral deposits are broken down and the teeth stay clean. This is not true. True, animals on soft diets accumulate plaque more readily than those on dry foods, but the only way to keep teeth clean above and below the gum line is by daily brushing.
DO NOT BE FOOLED BY THE "GENTLE DENTAL"
Some veterinary clinics are promoting what they call the "gentle dental". The claim is that your pet's teeth can be adequately cleaned without general anesthesia. This is not true. It is not possible to perform a proper dental with sedation alone. Examining individual teeth, checking for periodontal disease, and administering a thorough cleaning cannot be done in an awake pet. We have seen more damage done to the mouth with these bogus procedures than if nothing at all had been done.