Having your pet's teeth cleaned?

dog and cat

If your vet has suggested that Fifi needs dental prophylaxis, it’s because she has a significant amount of tartar on her teeth causing problems of which you’re probably not aware. Like humans, plaque forms on pet’s teeth and can lead to gingivitis, periodontal disease, abscesses, and tooth loss. Furthermore, the harmful bacteria in the plaque can enter the bloodstream and go to vital organs including the heart, kidneys, and liver causing detrimental health problems. As tartar continues to form, the gums recede exposing the root surfaces which can be painful for your pet.

Because a veterinary cleaning is considered a surgical procedure, your pet must be medically cleared before the appointment. A thorough exam including bloodwork is very important because of the anesthesia administered throughout the procedure. Without a complete workup, the vet has no idea how they will respond to the anesthesia and not knowing can cost your pets life.

If the pre-surgical workup is clear, the process begins with antibiotic premedication and sedatives through an IV catheter. Then, an endotracheal tube is placed in their airway to prevent anything from entering the lungs. At all times during the surgery, temperature, blood pressure, pulse oxygenation, and heart rhythm are monitored closely. Examination before the cleaning includes taking x-rays and measuring periodontal pocketing. After the exam, scaling with an ultrasonic instrument, hand scaling, and polishing removes the tartar and stain from the teeth and fluoride is applied. After the cleaning, any teeth with fractures, mobility, or infection are extracted.

After the cleaning and any extractions, your pet is weaned off of the anesthesia and sent to an area where they’re still closely monitored for a couple of hours. You can usually take them home with pain medication and an antibiotic after they’ve been cleared from recovery. Recovery is usually smooth, and they will need to eat soft foods for a little while until they’re comfortable with a more solid diet.

Follow the advice of your veterinarian regarding the frequency of cleanings. The biggest risk is always the anesthesia, and your vet should never proceed with administering anesthesia if your pet isn’t healthy enough to withstand surgery. Keeping your fur baby’s mouth healthy with proper home care helps tremendously. Brushing their teeth at least once per day and giving them treats recommended by your vet for tartar control can cut down on the frequency of cleanings keeping everyone safe and happy.

Opportunities for detecting oral cancer
Can a registered dental hygienist perform a prophy...

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