Professional dental cleaning is often indicated when periodontal disease is present.
Our own teeth are scaled by a dentist or hygienist - we sit in the chair and open our mouth when requested, letting the professional do their work. While the principles of good oral hygiene and dental health are the same for dogs and cats as for people, there are some significant differences. We understand why the procedure is important, and we typically do not need sedation or restraint. Neither is true for our pets. Another important difference between human and veterinary dental practice is that we tell the dentist when there is discomfort; to ensure that nothing is missed in dogs or cats, our patients require a thorough oral examination as part of a dental scaling procedure. Your veterinary dentist may recommend dental radiographs.
Professional dental cleaning includes scaling and other steps described below.
Every professional dental cleaning starts with a review of the patient’s general health and any previous dental history. For a thorough, safe dental cleaning in veterinary patients, anesthesia is essential, as this permits a comprehensive assessment of the tissues, allows dental radiographs to be made when indicated, followed by the cleaning (scaling and polishing procedure) itself. So-called “anesthesia-free dental scaling” is not recommended by AVDC.
Fig 1. Professional dental cleaning in a cat.
If the extent of the abnormality is limited to accumulation of plaque and dental tartar with gingivitis or only mild periodontitis (bone loss around the tooth), professional dental cleaning is indicated. The veterinary dentist will call the owner if additional abnormalities requiring attention are found.
Professional dental cleaning removes dental plaque and tartar that cause periodontal disease. The dental deposits are removed by power (ultrasonic) and hand dental scalers. Following scaling, the teeth are polished to remove residual plaque and to smooth the tooth surface (which delays deposition of plaque and tartar subsequently). The mouth is rinsed to remove debris prior to a final inspection. A plaque-preventive material may be applied to the teeth. The pet owner will be provided with recommendations for daily home oral hygiene specific for dogs or cats, and a recommendation made for a follow-up examination.
Fig 2. Finger tooth brush.