If your four-legged friend’s breath makes your nose wrinkle, they likely need a professional veterinary dental cleaning. These procedures are important for your pet’s oral health and overall wellbeing. Learn the ins and outs about professional dental cleanings by reading our Westerville Veterinary Clinic team’s answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about these oral procedures, and help prevent your pet from developing severe periodontal disease.

Question: Why does my pet need a professional veterinary dental cleaning?

Answer: A majority of cats and dogs have some degree of periodontal disease by the time they reach their third birthday. If your pet has extremely advanced dental disease, the periodontal bacteria can enter their bloodstream, affecting their heart, kidneys, and liver. However, before your pet’s dental disease becomes this severe, the condition’s consequences can still be significant, including:

  • Bad breath
  • Painful, swollen gums
  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Tooth root abscesses
  • Oro-nasal fistulas
  • Bone infection leading to fractures

Q: What is involved in a professional veterinary dental cleaning?

A: A professional veterinary dental cleaning is a comprehensive procedure during which our Westerville Veterinary Clinic team evaluates your pet’s oral health, addressing problems, and cleaning and polishing their teeth. A professional veterinary dental cleaning includes the following:

  • History — Your Westerville veterinarian reviews your pet’s medical history to learn about medications your pet is taking and any ongoing health issues. This information is critical to devise your four-legged friend’s safe anesthetic plan.
  • Physical examination — In addition to your pet’s oral health, we are concerned about their overall health. Your Westerville veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination.
  • Blood work — Preanesthesia blood work, including a complete blood count (CBC) and biochemistry profile, is necessary to detect any undetected health issues that may interfere with your pet’s procedure.
  • Intravenous (IV) catheter placement — Our team places an IV catheter so we can administer fluids during your pet’s procedure to keep them hydrated and support their cardiovascular system.
  • Anesthesia — We anesthetize your four-legged friend so we can perform dental procedures without causing your pet pain or stress. In addition, anesthesia keeps your pet still, allowing us to better clean their teeth while preventing injury from the sharp instruments.
  • X-rays — Our team takes full-mouth digital X-rays during a veterinary dental cleaning. Most dental disease occurs below the gumline, and X-rays are necessary so we can get a clear and accurate picture of your pet’s oral health. Without X-rays, we may miss serious oral health issues such as tooth root deterioration or bone infection.
  • Oral examination — After your pet is anesthetized, we thoroughly examine their mouth and surrounding structures. This allows us to assess their lymph nodes, salivary glands, maxilla, mandible, tongue, palate, tonsils, gingiva, and teeth. We also evaluate each tooth for mobility, discoloration, and other abnormalities. In addition, we probe around each tooth to check for periodontal pockets. If we find any abnormalities after reviewing your pet’s dental X-rays or anytime during their oral examination and veterinary dental cleaning, we address these issues after discussing the treatment options with you.
  • Dental record — We record any observed changes in your pet’s dental record.
  • Teeth cleaning — Our team uses specialized instruments, including dental scalers and curettes, to remove plaque and tartar from your pet’s teeth, as well as from under the gumline.
  • Teeth polishing — The instruments we use to clean your pet’s teeth can leave microscopic etches on the surface, and we polish their teeth so these areas don’t provide an accumulation point for bacteria.

Q: Are professional veterinary dental cleanings safe?

A: Professional veterinary dental cleanings are extremely safe for pets. Although you may be concerned about your pet receiving anesthesia, their periodontal disease complication risk is much higher than their anesthetic complication risk. To ensure your pet’s safety, our team uses multiple parameters to monitor them when they are receiving anesthesia. In addition, a veterinary professional solely dedicated to your pet’s care monitors them closely from the time anesthesia is induced until they are fully recovered, using methods such as electrocardiogram, heart rate monitor, blood pressure monitor, core body temperature, pulse oximetry, and end-tidal CO2 monitor. 

Q: How often does my pet need a professional veterinary dental cleaning?

A: Our Westerville Veterinary Clinic team should evaluate your pet’s oral health at least once per year. Some pets, including senior pets, brachycephalic (i.e., flat-faced) breeds, toy-breed dogs, and pets who have dental problems that have been previously diagnosed, may need more frequent oral evaluations. Your Westerville veterinarian will determine how often your four-legged friend should have a professional veterinary dental cleaning.

Q: How can I promote my pet’s oral health at home?

A: Plaque accumulates quickly on pets’ teeth during the time between professional veterinary dental cleanings. However, by promoting your pet’s oral health between visits, you help decrease how frequently they need the procedure. To help maintain your pet’s oral health between professional dental cleanings, follow these at-home recommendations:

  • Brushing your pet’s teeth — Daily toothbrushing is the best way to keep your pet’s mouth clean and healthy between professional veterinary dental cleanings.
  • Providing dental treats — Dental treats approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) can help remove plaque from your pet’s teeth and freshen their breath.
  • Feeding a dental diet — Dental diets are specially designed to help remove plaque from and inhibit plaque accumulation on your pet’s teeth. Ask your Westerville veterinarian if a dental diet is appropriate for your four-legged friend.

Learn answers to other pet oral health questions you have by contacting us and scheduling your pet’s professional veterinary cleaning with our Westerville Veterinary Clinic team.