Dental Exams

What Happens When My Pet Has His Teeth Cleaned?

By Kathy A. Sylvester, RVT

It has been suggested that your pet has its teeth cleaned. A dental cleaning for a pet is done a little differently than when we go to the dentist.

To understand the cost and why it is difficult to give an exact estimate prior to the cleaning, certain details regarding the procedure should be explained. To begin with, when a cat or dog is brought back to prepare it for the cleaning a blood sample is taken to check for any abnormalities that would prevent us from administering anesthesia), a catheter is placed in a front paw and an EKS (electrocardiogram) is run to check the heart. Pending the results of these presurgical tests, the pet is prepared for the dentistry.

First, the animal is given anesthesia and an antibiotic injection. He is put on the dental table and the procedure begins. The dental technician charts the entire mouth. This means every tooth is probed and evaluated to look for problems. All heavy tartar is removed to expose the crown of the tooth. Adult dogs have 42 teeth, cats have 30, and rabbits have 26-28. Veterinary dentists treat every tooth as a separate patient. So, this part of the procedure can take time if your pet has many problems.

Once all the charting and x-rays are complete, the game plan is then set. The veterinary dentist removes any teeth that need to be extracted, cleans diseased teeth below the gum line, or works on the gums. Once completed, the dental technician scales and polishes all the teeth. This procedure can take anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes, depending on how healthy the mouth is.

It should be pointed out that during the entire procedure your pet is receiving I.V. fluids and being carefully monitored (blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, and pulse checks).

It is now time to wake up your pet and allow him or her to recover in our nursing area. Once alert he or she will be placed in a heated (if necessary) cage to await your arrival.

This is the procedure for all of our dental patients, thought there are a few modifications when we work with exotic pets. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us.

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