Dental Scaling Procedure
While the equipment we use to perform dental cleanings is similar to that used by your own dentist, there are several additional steps involved in veterinary dentistry. Since your pet will not sit still and "open wide", general anesthesia is required to perform a thorough dental exam and prophylaxis. Most dental procedures require 30 minutes of anesthesia time, although some cleanings and/or extraction(s) may require additional anesthesia time. With your pet's utmost safety, comfort and wellbeing in mind, we use isoflurane gas anesthesia, and monitor ECG, SPO2, CO2, and body temperature during the procedure. All anesthetized patients have an intravenous catheter placed and receive fluid therapy during and after anesthesia. A pre-anesthetic blood screen is required to check for conditions affecting anesthetic procedures, such as anemia, diabetes, and liver or kidney disease(s). These conditions may affect the amount or type of anesthesia required. Any procedure involving an anesthetic entails some risk, but the above protocols minimize the risk to your pet.
Once your pet is anesthetized, we use an ultrasonic scaler to remove tartar from the visible surface of the tooth and under the gum line, as well as hand scale when necessary. The degree of gingivitis is assessed and all teeth are closely examined for chips, cracks, root exposure, pocketing or movement. These issues can indicate gingival disease and bone loss surrounding the tooth. Digital dental x-rays may be taken to examine the underlying structures to determine if extractions may be necessary.
Finally, the last step is to polish the tooth surface using a device and polish compound similar to what your dentist uses. Under most circumstances, your pet can go home the same day.
The most critical step in maintaining your pet's clean teeth and healthy gums is home dental care. By brushing your pet's teeth for just 30 seconds a day with an enzymatic toothpaste (you should never use human toothpaste for dogs or cats), you can prevent tartar buildup and lengthen the time between dental procedures. Some pets will not tolerate brushing at home, but we offer an array of other products to help maintain a healthy mouth, including Hill's Prescription Diet T/D food, which is specifically formulated to limit tartar accumulation.