What Happens During A Professional Dental Cleaning?

dog being brushed by veterinary dentist

Keeping your pet’s teeth as clean and healthy as possible is a crucial aspect of her care. Nevertheless, it is also something that surprises many and particularly inexperienced owners, who don’t yet realize that the condition of your animal’s teeth is just as important as the condition of yours.

Like us, animals are reliant on their teeth for biting and chewing. Many pets also use their tooth as both tools and weapons as they enable them to grasp and then immobilize passing prey such as mice and rats. Most of us know that dental pain can be extremely debilitating, and if our pets experience dental problems, they too will feel the same sort of discomfort.

While regularly brushing her teeth at home is a fundamental part of helping your pet to maintain good oral hygiene, most owners would agree that it is anything but an easy task. Even the most compliant pet can become distracted and will not understand the necessity of staying still and giving you unbiased access to her teeth. Fortunately, there is one way of getting your pet’s teeth truly clean – a professional pet dental clean performed by our veterinarian.

What is a professional pet dental clean?

A professional dental clean for pets is very similar to that offered to humans. With expert knowledge and the perfect tools for the job, our veterinarian is the very best person to clean your pet’s teeth. However, in order for your pet to remain still enough for our vet to do a thorough clean without causing her any harm, most veterinary offices insist on doing the process while your pet is under the effects of a general anesthetic.

Is using a general anesthetic for a pet dental clean necessary and is it safe?

Understandably, many owners have very real concerns about the use of a general anesthetic, which is a type of intravenously-delivered medication that renders a human, or in this case an animal, unconscious.

Firstly, rest assured that all pets are carefully screened before being approved for general anaesthetic. This involves taking information about your pet’s general health and well-being and assessing the suitability of the anaesthetic. If there is any considerable risk to your pet, our veterinarian will speak to you before deciding whether to go ahead with the general anaesthetic. In most instances healthy pets can undergo a dental cleaning with the general anaesthetic with no problems.

Secondly, most veterinarians would agree that the benefits of a dental clean performed under general anaesthetic significantly outweigh the risks associated with the procedure. The tools used in dental procedures can be sharp and the use of general anaesthetic prevents your pet from moving at an inopportune time and potentially putting themselves at risk. Their immobile state also gives our veterinarian time and access to perform a truly thorough dental clean.

What happens during a professional pet dental clean?

Several different things happen during a professional pet dental clean. First and foremost, your pet’s teeth will undergo a process called scaling. This can be particularly time-consuming if your pet hasn’t had the best dental hygiene in the past and has a large amount of tartar accumulated on her teeth.

Periodontal disease is a very common problem that will affect most cats and dogs by the time they reach three years of age. It occurs when the plaque that has accumulated on the teeth starts to penetrate below the gum line, causing irritation, infection and eventually problems such as deteriorating gums and jaw bone, and even tooth loss. To help combat periodontal disease, our vet will also use a special tool to clean just under the gums, removing any debris and bacteria.

Once the teeth are sufficiently clean, they will be polished so that any grooves in the enamel have been smoothed out and plaque and tartar cannot build up in the crevices. The device used to polish your pet’s teeth will be identical to that used by your dentist to polish your own.

After the cleaning process has been completed, our veterinarian may take some x-rays of the teeth just to check if there are any issues present below what is visible to the naked eye. If any decay or disease is identified, our vet will be able to advise you on the next best course of action.

How often does my pet need a professional dental clean?

Most veterinarians would recommend that you bring your pet for a professional dental clean at least once every 12 months. This will enable them to perform a thorough examination of your pet’s mouth and teeth and identify any potential problems early before any irreversible damage occurs.

For further advice on professional pet dental cleanings, contact us and speak to our veterinary team.