Pet Dental Cleanings: What Really Happens?

When your pet comes in for a dental procedure, the doctor will first examine your dog or cat to ensure they are fit to undergo anesthesia. Your veterinarian may recommend doing pre-anesthetic blood work. This blood work will look at things such as kidney and liver function, to make sure that it is safe for your pet to receive a dental cleaning under anesthesia that day.

Once your pet gets the ‘OK’ from their doctor, they will receive an injection of a sedative, which will make them nice and relaxed. Once your dog or cat is comfortable, we will place an IV (intravenous) catheter and start running fluids. The IV helps your pet stay hydrated during and after the procedure. It is also a safety precaution which allows us to have IV access in case of an emergency during the procedure. Next, our patient is intubated and placed under general anesthesia (inhaled anesthetic). It will allow your pet to remain unconscious and pain-free during the entire procedure. A veterinary nurse monitors your pet’s vitals throughout the entire dental and notifies the doctor of any changes.

One of our nurses then takes X-rays of all of your dog or cat’s teeth. It allows our doctors to see what is going on ‘under the surface’ of each tooth. Your pet’s vet will examine the teeth closely with a probe to detect any abnormalities. Based on x-rays and closer examination, the doctor will decide as to whether any extractions are necessary. If this is the case, you will be phoned by your pet’s vet and together decide if we will proceed with extractions or not. In the meantime, cleaning starts. We start by using an ultrasonic scaler; the same type your human dentist uses. Each tooth is cleaned 360 degrees around it and below the gum line. Finally, if no extractions are needed, we polish all the teeth and voila! Fresh breath, no more bacteria, and a happier and healthier mouth for your pet!

We turn off the gas anesthesia, extubate our patient, and continue to monitor their vitals closely until they regain consciousness. Additional pain control and/or antibiotics are sent home if deemed necessary by their veterinarian. Pets are generally low energy and sleepy for the next 12 to 24 hours following this procedure but bounce back to their usual selves by the next day or two. We offer a complimentary dental follow up with a veterinary nurse 10 to 14 days following the procedure in order to examine your pet’s mouth. We will discuss ongoing dental care for your pet when applicable, and answer any questions you may have.

If you would like more information about our dental services, give us a call, and we will be happy to answer all of your questions.

Written by: Dr. Amanda Charron, Veterinarian