As a pet owner, you’ve likely heard about the importance of professional dental cleanings for dogs and cats. Maybe your pet has had the procedure done in the past. But, do you know what really happens during a veterinary dental cleaning? Read on to find out what important steps occur after you drop off your pet for this essential service. 

Examination of your pet

After you’ve filled out the necessary paperwork, a Town and Country Animal Hospital PC team member will escort your pet to the hospital treatment area for their pre-procedural evaluation, including a full physical nose-to-tail examination. This important step allows your veterinarian to look for any red flags, such as a heart murmur, abnormal heart rhythm, fever, or other abnormalities that may pose an anesthetic risk. If irregularities are found, these can be addressed at the same time, or at a later appointment. 

Laboratory tests for your pet

All our patients receive baseline laboratory tests, including a complete blood cell count, to monitor red and white blood cell and platelet counts, before undergoing general anesthesia. We also perform a biochemistry panel on your pet’s blood, which provides valuable information about your pet’s liver and kidney function, blood glucose, and other parameters. Depending on your pet’s age and health status, additional blood, urine, or other tests may be recommended, to ensure your pet is healthy enough to receive general anesthesia. 

Anesthesia, prep, and monitoring your pet

When your pet is cleared for the procedure, they will receive a sedative medication injection. An intravenous catheter is inserted into the leg, and anesthesia induction is achieved by injecting a medication into your pet’s catheter, causing your pet to completely fall asleep. At this time, the monitoring equipment, including an oxygen monitor, electrocardiogram probes, and a rectal thermometer, is hooked up to your pet. As soon as your pet is fully anesthetized, a team member begins keeping track of their vital signs, such as heart rate, respiratory rate, and temperature. These measures are charted every few minutes, with any notable changes immediately reported to the veterinarian in charge. Lastly, a skilled team member will intubate your dog with a breathing tube through which they will receive a combination of oxygen and gas anesthesia during the procedure. 

Scaling and charting your pet’s teeth

When your pet is fully anesthetized, a technician will begin cleaning your pet’s teeth with both hand scaling and ultrasonic scaling techniques. Because we use general anesthesia, we are able to thoroughly clean underneath your pet’s gum line, removing stubborn tartar and plaque that can lead to problems like gingivitis or tooth root infection. As we clean the teeth, we note any abnormalities, such as loose, missing, or fractured teeth. If a pet’s dental disease has progressed significantly, some teeth may fall out during this cleaning process. When our veterinary technician is finished cleaning, the veterinarian will examine the mouth, and probe around each tooth, assessing any pocketing that may indicate disease. 

X-rays for pets

Since dental disease likes to hide beneath the tooth’s surface, we often recommend dental X-rays—including for preventive dental cleaning appointments. X-rays allow us to see what’s going on below the gum line, revealing issues such as bone loss, jaw fractures, or tooth root abscesses. Because many pets with severe dental problems don’t show any signs of discomfort, we must rely on diagnostics like X-rays to help us assess and properly treat dental disease. 

Treatment of pet dental disease

Using all the information we’ve gathered during the exam, cleaning, and X-rays, your veterinarian will decide on an appropriate treatment plan. Depending on the problem, this may involve tooth extraction, crown amputation, topical antibiotic treatment, or biopsies. If your pet requires extensive work, an additional procedure may be necessary. We will work with you through this process, to ensure you stay informed, and your pet receives the care they need. 

Polishing your pet’s teeth

Once all necessary treatments are completed, our technical team will finish the procedure by polishing the teeth surfaces to seal any cracks or fissures. This process helps protect the tooth from future trauma while limiting bacterial growth that leads to plaque and tartar.

Recovery of your pet

When the dental procedure is finished, we turn off the gas anesthesia and patiently wait for your pet to show waking signs. This is a delicate process that can occur quickly or take some time, depending on the pet. Once your pet is adequately awake, we place them in a comfortable enclosure, and monitor them until all their vital signs are normal. If necessary, we will place a warming device with your pet, to increase their body temperature. Many pets continue to snooze away the rest of the day, but others quickly snap awake. We will contact you when the procedure is finished to schedule an appropriate pick-up time, when we will discuss the day’s findings and develop a follow-up plan for your pet. 

Town and Country Animal Hospital PC is dedicated to your pet’s dental health, and we take every precaution to ensure your pet has a safe and thorough dental cleaning experience. For more information or to book an appointment, contact us.