Like in human dentistry, a professional dental cleaning is the only way to remove tartar from the teeth and under the gum tissue to protect your pet’s health. Good news: with a professional dental cleaning and follow-up care, gingivitis is reversible. Unfortunately, periodontal disease is not reversible, but diligent at-home dental care and regular veterinary cleanings can slow down the progression of the condition.
During a dental cleaning (sometimes called a prophylaxis), specialist remove plaque and tartar from a pet’s teeth, and assess the health of the entire mouth: tongue, gums and lips.
A proper dental cleaning is done under general anesthesia. Pre-anesthetic tests for blood work or kidney and liver function highly recommended, particularly for elderly pets. Anesthesia keeps your pet free of pain during the dental procedure and allows your veterinarian to fully inspect the teeth and remove tartar from under the gums. During anesthesia, a soft plastic tube is inserted into the trachea (the main airway in the throat) to support the patient’s breathing. Placement of the tracheal tube also prevents inhalation of bacteria that are aerosolized during the dental cleaning.
A dental cleaning may include:
A professional dental cleaning removes not only the visible plaque and tartar on the teeth surfaces but also the bacteria under the gums. This eliminates potential sources of infection to the mouth and other organs and protects your pet from pain and tooth loss. Depending on patient size, age, and the amount of dental disease present, the procedure usually takes anywhere between 45-90 minutes, or 60 to 120 minutes for elderly pets. It should be noted that dental prophylaxis is not a one-time fix-all solution and your pet may need to eventually return for another cleaning.
Scared about anesthesia? Read more about it.