Although your pet’s stinky kisses may seem normal, bad breath is a sign of underlying dental disease. In fact, up to 80% of pets have some form of dental disease by age 3, which can have serious negative health effects. Periodontal disease not only causes bad breath, but also can lead to oral pain, dental infections, heart disease, and liver and kidney problems. While brushing your pet’s teeth daily is the gold standard of at-home care, professional dental cleanings, including full-mouth dental X-rays, are required for below-the-gum care. However, your furry pal won’t sit still for their dental care, so general anesthesia is needed to perform a thorough dental cleaning. Let’s take a closer look at the steps of a professional dental cleaning.
Step 1: Preanesthetic testing to screen your pet for health issues
Your pet’s safety is of utmost importance to our HEAL team, so we perform a variety of preanesthetic tests, including a thorough physical exam and blood work, to evaluate their health and screen for conditions that could increase anesthetic risk. Based on your pet’s preanesthetic testing, we will formulate a customized anesthetic protocol to prevent pain and anxiety, while keeping your pet as safe as possible.
Step 2: Placing an intravenous catheter in your pet
An intravenous (IV) catheter allows us to run fluids before and during the dental procedure, boosting your pet’s blood pressure and helping them metabolize anesthetic medications. Plus, it provides immediate access if there is an emergency.
Step 3: Inducing anesthesia in your pet
Once the IV catheter is in place and your pet has been given a cocktail of a sedative and pain-relieving medication, we induce anesthesia. When your pet is fully unconscious, we place a breathing tube down their trachea and provide a mixture of fresh oxygen and anesthetic gas to keep them asleep. The tube also has an inflatable cuff that prevents any fluid from running into their lungs during their dental procedure.
Step 4: Monitoring your pet with state-of-the-art equipment
To keep your pet safe, we closely monitor them throughout the procedure using state-of-the-art equipment that measures blood pressure, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, temperature, and heart function. Our skilled team also monitors your pet, and can detect subtle changes that machines cannot pick up.
Step 5: Full-mouth dental X-rays of your pet
After your pet is asleep and attached to their monitoring equipment, we take full-mouth dental X-rays. As much as 60% of the tooth structure lies hidden below the gum’s surface, and X-rays are essential for detecting underlying disease, such as abscesses, fractures, bone loss, and root resorption.
Step 6: Charting your pet’s periodontal problems
By reviewing your pet’s dental X-rays and examining their mouth while asleep, we can note periodontal problems and create a treatment plan, which helps monitor your pet’s oral health over the years.
Step 7: Scaling away plaque and tartar from your pet’s teeth
Sticky plaque begins to form on your pet’s teeth only hours after eating, and if not removed, hardens into cement-like tartar. The bacteria found in these two substances can cause an oral infection, leading to painful gingivitis, loose teeth, and abscesses. We clean above and below the gumline to remove every trace of bacteria-laden plaque and tartar.
Step 8: Polishing imperfections from your pet’s teeth
During the scaling process, tiny microabrasions can form in the tooth enamel, which can attract future plaque. After scaling, we polish any rough enamel imperfections to ensure the surface is smooth again.
Step 9: Extracting any of your pet’s diseased teeth
Pets routinely need diseased teeth extracted, to remove an infection source, or a painful fractured or decaying tooth. If extractions are necessary, we use nerve blocks and pain medications to keep your pet as comfortable and pain-free as possible.
Step 10: Recovering your pet from anesthesia
Once your pet’s mouth is clean and minty fresh, we recover them from anesthesia, ensuring they wake smoothly and without fear or pain. The anesthetic recovery period is as critical as the induction period, and we never leave your pet alone. We keep a close eye on their vital signs as they wake from anesthesia, monitoring for signs of discomfort or pain. After your pet is fully awake and able to walk, we send them back to your open arms.
There’s an excellent chance your furry pal will need their teeth professionally cleaned at some point in their life—likely more than once. Rest assured your pet will be in the best of hands during their dental cleaning with the Helping Every Animal with Love team. Call us to schedule an appointment.