Pet Dental Care

Like people, pets need regular dental care. Gum disease causes pain, accounts for the loss of teeth, and can lead to serious generalized bacterial infections. At Westfield Animal Hospital, your pet’s physical examination includes a thorough examination of the mouth, gums and teeth. Teeth cleaning (removal of dental plaque and tartar) is an important step in preventing gingivitis and advanced dental disease.

Veterinary dentistry is quite different from the equivalent process in people. For most of us, caring for our teeth and gums has been part of our daily routine for as long as we can remember. Consequently, a person’s visit to the dentist is relatively brief and does not require sedation. In contrast, your pet’s dental care is considerably more involved, time-consuming, and complex. It requires general anesthesia, and consequently a day’s hospitalization and the skills of several people, from a veterinarian to veterinary technicians and animal attendants.

Your Pet’s Dental Procedure

After the physical exam and pre-dental workup, your pet is given pain medication and administered anesthesia for a safe and painless sleep during the dental cleaning. There are several reasons why anesthesia is necessary for oral examination and dental cleaning:

  • Dental tartar is firmly attached to the surface of teeth and needs to be removed.
  • An ultrasonic scaler and sharp hand instruments are used to clean your pet’s teeth in order to remove the dental tartar. Any sudden movement can cause injury to your pet or to the individual performing the dental procedure.
  • Dental cleaning is performed above and below the gum line. Scaling the teeth above the gum line usually does not cause discomfort; however, scaling below the gum line can cause discomfort. The area below the gum line, or subgingival space, is the most important area to clean as periodontal disease begins here.
  • Humans cooperate during dental procedures; however, without anesthesia, dogs and cats do not.

Next, we use a periodontal probe to check your pet’s teeth for pockets under the gumline where periodontal disease and bad breath start. An ultrasonic mechanical scaler is used to clean each tooth above the gumline while a curette cleans and smoothes the teeth under the gumline.

Our dental technicians then polish your pet’s teeth to create a smooth, lustrous tooth surface that becomes more resistant to tartar and plaque buildup. Fluoride is applied to the teeth to strengthen the enamel and decrease tooth sensitivity.

When the technician is finished, one of our veterinarians examines your pet’s teeth and gums. If additional dental care or radiographs are needed, we performed the work at this point. Advanced dental procedures are performed by an experienced veterinary dentist.

It is important to remember that it’s possible to add years to your pet’s life with proper dental care. Dental hygiene can also increase your pet’s health, vitality and wellbeing. Veterinary dental care helps ensure your pet leads the best life possible.