If your pet's mouth smells bad, its teeth are discolored, or its gums are inflammed they may need a professional dental cleaning. The dental cleaning procedure as performed at Wandermere Animal Hospital is explained below...
Pre-op blood panel: This panel tests for anemia, liver and kidney disease, and diabetes prior to anesthesia.
Anesthesia-Premedication: This intramuscular injection includes a sedative and a pain medication.
Anesthesia-Induction: An intravenous catheter is placed to facilitate the use of intravenous anesthetic medications and as a port for any emergency drugs and fluids. This is an important safety measure. After an intravenous injection of general anesthesia is given an endotracheal tube is placed to deliver gas anesthesia.
Anesthesia-Maintenance: Isoflurane gas is used to keep your pet asleep during the dental cleaning. Your pet is monitored by a pulse-oximeter, blood pressure monitor, temperature probe, and EKG. Our trained staff also diligently stand by to observe the monitors as well as listen to your pet's heart rate and check mucous membrane color and anesthetic depth throughout the proceedure.
Dental Radiographs: We will take full mouth xrays of your pets teeth to look for root infections and bone loss that are hiding under the gum line. This helps our doctors determine which teeth are healthy enough to save and which ones need to be removed.
Dental Cleaning: The teeth are first cleaned with an ultrasonic scaler to remove tartar and plaque from the tooth's surface. Next our technician will clean above the gum line to remove plaque where you can't see it. If there are infected, loose, or damaged teeth the doctor may decide to extract them.
Polishing: After scaling the teeth, a special paste is used to even out any irregular surfaces decreasing future build-up of plaque and tartar.
What about anesthesia-free cleanings?
The American Veterinary Dental College advises against anesthesia-free dental cleaning. Here is an excerpt from their recently drafted position statement:
"Owners of pets naturally are concerned when anesthesia is required for their pet. However, performing nonprofessional dental scaling on an unanesthetized pet is inappropriate for the following reasons:
- Dental tartar is firmly adhered to the surface of the teeth. Scaling to remove tartar is accomplished using ultrasonic and sonic power scalers, plus hand instruments that must have a sharp working edge to be used effectively. Even slight head movement by the patient could result in injury to the oral tissues of the patient, and the operator may be bitten when the patient reacts.
- Professional dental scaling includes scaling the surfaces of the teeth both above and below the gingival margin (gum line), followed by dental polishing. The most critical part of a dental scaling procedure is scaling the tooth surfaces that are within the gingival pocket (the subgingival space between the gum and the root), where periodontal disease is active. Because the patient cooperates, dental scaling of human teeth performed by a professional trained in the procedures can be completed successfully without anesthesia. However, access to the subgingival area of every tooth is impossible in an unanesthetized canine or feline patient. Removal of dental tartar on the visible surfaces of the teeth has little effect on a pet's health and provides a false sense of accomplishment. The effect is purely cosmetic.
- Inhalation anesthesia using a cuffed endotracheal tube provides three important advantages- the cooperation of the patient with a procedure it does not understand, elimination of pain resulting from examination and treatment of affected dental tissues during the procedure, and protection of the airway and lungs from accidental aspiration.
- A complete oral examination, which is an important part of a professional dental scaling procedure, is not possible in an unanesthetized patient. The surfaces of the teeth facing the tongue cannot be examined, and areas of disease and discomfort are likely to be missed."