The Ins and Outs of Professional Pet Dental Cleanings

February is National Pet Dental Health Month, and while you likely know that professional dental cleanings are an important part of your pet’s oral health, you may be unsure about how often your pet needs their teeth cleaned. To help ensure you know how to maintain your pet’s oral health, our Madison Street Animal Hospital team answers your questions about your pet’s dental care.

Why do pets need professional dental cleanings?

Pets need professional dental cleanings to prevent them from developing periodontal disease, which is the most common dental condition in dogs and cats. The majority of pets—up to 85%—have dental disease by 3 years of age, and left untreated, this condition can cause your pet serious health problems and pain. If your veterinarian does not regularly remove tartar from your pet’s teeth, the cement-like substance will build up, attracting bacteria and causing gum inflammation that can lead to infection, tissue erosion, and bone and tooth loss. Over time, dental disease can lead to permanent organ damage if oral bacteria spread through your pet’s bloodstream. Early detection and routine preventive care can minimize dental disease’s impact, and one of the best ways to do this is to schedule your pet’s regular professional dental cleanings. 

What happens during my pet’s dental cleaning?

Regular professional veterinary dental cleanings will keep your pet’s teeth clean and prevent oral bacteria from spreading throughout their body, affecting their organs. During your pet’s professional dental cleaning, our Madison Street Animal Hospital team follows these steps:

Step #1: Health evaluation

Before the procedure our veterinarian evaluates your pet’s health status. This ensures we detect any potential anesthesia risks and determine appropriate anesthesia doses for your furry pal’s weight, size, and health conditions:

  • Physical Exam — Before your pet’s dental cleaning, our veterinarian will perform a complete physical and dental exam to identify any underlying health and dental problems. We will also perform preanesthetic blood tests to ensure your pet’s kidneys and liver are functioning properly, and to customize your pet’s anesthetic protocol. 
  • Anesthesia administration — By ensuring your pet remains unaware during the entire professional dental cleaning procedure, anesthesia minimizes your pet’s stress and pain. Anesthesia also keeps your pet completely still, so our veterinary team can obtain dental X-rays and complete a thorough oral exam and cleaning.

Step #2: Dental cleaning

During the procedure, our veterinarian does more than simply clean your pet’s teeth. To complete your pet’s thorough dental evaluation and professional cleaning, our veterinary team performs the following:

  • Dental X-rays — Roughly 60% of a tooth’s structure lies below the gumline, making dental X-rays essential to detect potential problems that can’t be seen on a tooth’s surface. Dental X-rays can reveal common issues such as fractures, infections, cysts, unerupted teeth, and bone loss.
  • Teeth cleaning and polishing — Our veterinary team will fully clean all surfaces of each tooth, and entirely scale and polish each one—above and below the gumline. Cleaning under the gumline prevents periodontal disease, which causes pain, tooth loss, and jaw bone deterioration. To make the teeth’s surfaces less hospitable to plaque formation, they are polished to remove micro abrasions formed during the cleaning process.
  • Complete oral exam — Once the plaque and tartar are removed from your pet’s teeth, our veterinarian completes their oral exam and dental charting, deciding if any damaged teeth require extraction.

Step #3: After care

After the procedure, our veterinary team keeps a close eye on your pet before we discharge them to your care. Our team members perform the following

  • Recovery monitoring — After the procedure, your pet’s anesthesia recovery is monitored every step of the way. 
  • Discharge and at-home care instructions — When your pet is ready to go home, you will receive home-care instructions and details about scheduling your pet’s next dental exam. In addition, we will teach you how to start your pet’s at-home oral health care regimen.

How often does my pet need a professional dental cleaning?

Most pets require an annual dental cleaning starting between 2 and 3 years of age. However, each pet’s recommended dental cleaning frequency varies, and multiple factors help determine your pet’s professional dental cleaning frequency, such as:

  • Age — Older pets typically require more frequent dental cleaning because of their aging teeth’s increased wear and tear.
  • Breed and size — Smaller pets and brachycephalic (i.e., flat-faced) breeds who often have diminutive mouths generally have poor dental health, so they need their teeth cleaned more often than large-sized breeds.
  • Health conditions — Certain inflammatory and autoimmune diseases can make your pet quickly develop gingivitis and dental disease, requiring frequent professional dental cleanings.
  • Lifestyle — Dogs with powerful chewing habits can cause a significant amount of dental damage and may require more dental care. 

How can I maintain my pet’s dental health between cleanings?

Between professional dental cleanings, you can help maintain your pet’s oral health by creating a regular at-home dental care routine. Without at-home dental care, your pet has a high dental disease risk and may require more frequent cleanings. To remove plaque that forms on their teeth shortly after eating, brush your pet’s teeth—once plaque hardens into tartar, the substance is almost impossible to remove through brushing alone. Supplement toothbrushing with specially formulated dental chews that help scrape away plaque and tartar. When choosing the best dental health products for your pet, look at the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s (VOHC) registered seal. These products are proven to slow plaque and tartar accumulation. 

Professional dental cleanings and regular at-home oral care can keep your pet’s mouth fresh and healthy. Schedule your pet’s oral health care appointment with our Madison Street Animal Hospital team.

By |2023-02-24T03:12:35+00:00February 23rd, 2023|News|0 Comments

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