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What is included in a dental cleaning?
Your pet has been diagnosed with periodontal disease. You schedule a cleaning just as your veterinarian has recommended. Now what? Do you know what is all included in a cleaning? This is a very important question and one that all owners should ask their veterinary staff. Not every clinic has the same protocol for performing a dental or periodontal cleaning and you as an owner should know what is going to happen with your pet throughout the whole procedure.
At Miracle Hills Animal Hospital, we feel that our periodontal cleanings are very thorough. We follow the American Animal Hospital Association's guidelines for periodontal cleanings and we strive to provide your pet with the best care around.
Our cleanings are not your average "dental cleaning." Ours are "periodontal cleanings" which means we clean the teeth both above and below the gum line. We do more than just clean the tartar off your pet's teeth and send them home. If we did that, we would be missing 60% of the disease in your pet's mouth. At Miracle Hills Animal Hospital, that is viewed as below average care and is not doing you or your pet any favors.
A periodontal cleaning here begins with pre-anesthetic blood work and a chest x-ray the morning of the procedure. Before your pet receives any medications or anesthesia, we want to make sure their organs are functioning properly and that the heart and lungs appear normal. Assuming your pet's lab work is normal, we will continue with the procedure. Next your pet gets an IV catheter and receives fluids the entire time they are under anesthesia. This helps us to maintain blood pressure and support your pet's organs during the anesthetic period. Your pet will also be given an antibiotic injection. As we are cleaning your pet's teeth, we are stirring up bacteria that can be damaging to organs so the antibiotic helps to keep the bacteria at bay. Your pet will be placed on a warming system to help maintain body temperature which can drop due to anesthesia. Your pet's blood pressure, blood oxygen level, heart rate, and temperature will be closely monitored during the procedure.
Sounds like a lot, right? It is, but that's just the beginning. Once your pet is safely under anesthesia we begin what we deem as the most important part of our periodontal cleanings, full mouth digital x-rays. Every tooth or area where a tooth should be will be x-rayed. This is an extremely important part of any periodontal cleaning. If x-rays are not taken, you miss up to 60% of the disease in your pet's mouth. Think about it, your pet can't talk to you to say "my tooth has been hurting," so without x-rays there is a high likelihood that we will miss an area that needs attention. Therefore, if you are going to put your pet under anesthesia to have their teeth cleaning, be sure that full mouth intraoral x-rays are being taken.
Once the x-rays have been taken, a veterinary technician will evaluate each tooth in the mouth and record the findings on a dental chart. Next, the teeth are cleaned with an ultrasonic cleaner with two different attachments. The first attachment cleans the surface of the tooth that you can see and the second cleans under the gum line where infections begin.
After the technician has evaluated, charted, and cleaned the teeth, Dr. Schreiber will then re-evaluate each tooth in the pet's mouth. If the x-rays showed teeth that need special attention such as an extraction, closed root planing, or periodontal therapy, Dr. Schreiber will place a nerve block. This block numbs the quadrant of the tooth that needs advanced dental work so your pet will not feel pain. If an extraction is done, it will be done surgically and the extraction site will be sutured. This allows the extraction site to heal faster, prevent debris build up, and lowers chances of infection. After the extraction is complete, an x-ray will be taken to ensure no tooth roots were left behind.
After Dr. Schreiber has completed any advanced dental work and his evaluation, your pet will have a sealant placed on their teeth. This helps prevent plaque from building up for a few days while your pet recovers from the procedure. Once the sealant is applied, we wake your pet up and call you to give you a report on how your beloved pet did. Your pet will then go home that afternoon.
Finally, we will have you bring your pet back periodically throughout the year to recheck their mouth at no additional charge. We will also help you begin home oral care so we can keep your pet's teeth as healthy as possible.
As you can see, there is a lot involved in our periodontal cleanings and we believe your pet deserves to have the best care possible. So, next time you are told that your pet needs to have their teeth cleaned, or you think your pet may need a cleaning, call us at 402-492-9022 for a free dental exam. Dr. Schreiber would love to assist you and your pet with their dental needs.
The dental care process for my dog CoCo was AMAZING! This was the first oral check up for CoCo and the staff was to great about explaining everything to me. They kept me 'in the loop' on all they were doing and how CoCo was handling the process. They truly care about my dog and I couldn't be more appreciative.