Dental health is an important part of your pet’s overall health and wellbeing. Regular at-home dental care and professional cleanings performed at Twin Maples Veterinary Hospital can potentially add years to your pet’s life by preventing or minimizing periodontal disease—a painful and progressive condition that attacks the tooth root below the gum line.

But, what happens during a veterinary dental cleaning—a comprehensive oral health assessment and treatment (COHAT)? We invite you to the dental suite for a look at a routine pet dental.

Your pet’s pre-anesthetic evaluation

Before our veterinarian performs your pet’s dental cleaning, they conduct a physical examination to assess your pet’s oral cavity and tentatively plan their procedure based on their pain level, gum health, calculus (i.e., visible tartar), and any missing or broken teeth.

Anesthesia ensures your pet’s safety and comfort, enabling our veterinarian to perform a thorough dental procedure. Before your pet’s dental procedure, our veterinarian will evaluate their heart, lungs, and body condition, identifying contraindications or risks. Our veterinary professionals will also recommend pre-anesthetic blood work to evaluate organ function, especially the liver and kidneys, which are responsible for drug metabolism.

Anesthesia protocols that keep your pet safe

You may have been postponing your pet’s dental care out of concern for their anesthesia safety. Rest assured that Twin Maples Veterinary Hospital veterinary professionals practice the highest levels of anesthesia safety, which is why every anesthetic procedure includes:

  • Intravenous catheter — The intravenous (IV) catheter securely delivers your pet’s medications and fluids without damaging their vein or requiring multiple injections.
  • Intubation — The endotracheal tube prevents airway collapse and protects the lungs from debris.
  • Dedicated technician anesthetist — A dedicated veterinary technician anesthetist attends one surgical patient at a time, continually assessing their vitals and comfort.
  • Advanced monitoring — Through electronic monitoring, our veterinary professionals measure your pet’s heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygenation, blood pressure, temperature, and cardiac electrical activity.
  • Pain management — Our anesthetic protocols include a balance of sedation and analgesia (i.e., pain relief), allowing smaller medication doses and lower inhalant (i.e., gas) anesthesia levels.

Dental X-rays look below your pet’s gum line

Periodontal (i.e., dental) disease does the most damage below the gum line, making X-rays essential to comprehensive veterinary dental procedures. At Twin Maples Veterinary Hospital, we X-ray each tooth to get a detailed look at its roots, ligamentous attachments, and surrounding jawbone. While a tooth’s crown may look healthy, X-rays reveal hidden decay, infection, resorption, bone loss, and some oral cancers.

The veterinary oral health exam

After X-raying your pet’s teeth, their veterinarian performs a detailed oral examination, in which they chart and evaluate each tooth, including measuring for periodontal pockets (i.e., gaps between the gum and the bone caused by inflammation), and comparing the tooth with its X-ray image. Our veterinarian will also look for abnormalities by performing a complete oral cavity examination that includes the gums, tongue, palate, and upper airway. Using the findings, our veterinarian will customize your pet’s dental treatment plan, which may include tooth extractions (i.e., removal), biopsies, or preventive therapies to save at-risk teeth.

Scaling and polishing your pet’s teeth

After our veterinarian has evaluated your pet’s oral health, a trained veterinary technician  performs a dental prophylaxis (i.e., a thorough teeth cleaning) by carefully scaling each tooth’s surfaces, removing visible tartar and invisible plaque. Our veterinary technicians use an ultrasonic scaler to safely remove plaque below the gumline without harming the sensitive tissue or tooth enamel. They also use fine hand tools to break plaque’s glue-like bonds and remove debris from every tooth crevice. Finally, the technician gently polishes each tooth, removing any microgrooves, deterring future plaque buildup.

Pets’ dental extractions and oral surgery

If necessary, the veterinarian will remove damaged or infected teeth. Before dental extraction, we ensure your pet’s anesthesia is adequate, and administer a local anesthetic to numb the nerves around the tooth. Your pet’s veterinarian uses gentle tooth extraction techniques,  inspects the tooth socket, and sutures the gums. Before closing, our veterinarian X-rays the area to ensure they have removed the entire root. At this time, our veterinarian will perform additional necessary procedures (e.g., tissue biopsy, antibiotic therapy, protective sealant application).

Your pet’s recovery and discharge appointment

After the procedure, your pet will recover in a warm and quiet cage where our veterinary professionals closely monitor them until they can hold themselves upright and maintain a normal body temperature. During your pet’s hospital discharge, our team will review the dental findings with you, discuss any postoperative care (e.g., feeding, medication), and provide recommendations for maintaining your pet’s newly restored dental health.

Your pet’s dental procedure is more than a cleaning. You are now familiar with the comprehensive oral health assessment and treatment (COHAT), which is an anesthetized procedure during which our veterinarian identifies and treats your pet’s hidden, sometimes painful, dental disease, in addition to cleaning their teeth. If your pet is experiencing bad breath or has visibly broken or dirty teeth, contact Twin Maples Veterinary Hospital for a dental consultation.