Written by our veterinarians to provide you with the information you need to care for your pets.
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Pet Dental Cleaning


Dental disease is a very painful condition and is known to affect up to 95 percent of pets in the first three years of their life. Pets cannot tell you their pain, they rely on you to take care of them and however, most pet owners ignore the signs of pain because they don’t know what to look for. When unsure, please schedule annual checkups, so that the veterinarians can check for signs of dental disease and suggest the appropriate treatment. Regular yearly and or semiannual dental cleanings will prevent dental diseases. In cases where dental cleanings are not performed on a regular basis, the disease starts with dental calculus which progresses to become gingivitis and periodontal disease along with the decay of enamel and dentin resulting in cavities, tooth root abscess, and tooth loss. Dental procedures are also required to restore chipped and eroded teeth with exposed pulp cavities, often a direct result of chewing on bones, sticks, and pebbles.

Periodontal disease is the number one cause for teeth loss, often times the pets were brought in for teeth cleaning when the disease is progressed to an irreversible stage. Advanced stages of dental diseases may need dental X-rays, teeth extraction, pain medication, and antibiotics.

Flip the Lip!

Gently lift your pet’s lip and look for signs of tartar (brown “stains” around the gum line), inflamed gums (Red or purple gum line), or missing/broken teeth. Other signs of the dental disease might include:

1)    Increased drooling or in case of cats, failing to groom themselves.

2)    Reluctance to eat or direct swallowing without chewing.

3)    You might see “chattering” of the teeth when trying to eat and or shivering of the entire pet with pain or your pet might become lethargic and detached from surroundings.

4)    The calculus you see is the tip of an iceberg there is so much more under the gums.

The dental cleaning procedure:

The pet should not be fed after evening meal on the day before surgery to reduce the risk of vomiting and aspiration (inhaling vomit into lungs) pneumonia during anesthesia.

Most veterinarians insist that pre-anesthetic blood work be performed to make sure the pet is capable of metabolizing and removing the anesthetic drugs from the body.

Once the blood work looks good we induce anesthesia, the pets are intubated (place an endotracheal tube) to prevent bacteria-rich dental washings from entering into lungs and to prevent aspiration pneumonia.

The teeth are then scraped to clean the tartar and calculus using an ultrasonic scaler. Normal dental scalars move to and fro like a hummingbird beak, these scalars when placed incorrectly causes enamel damage, and care should be taken to use these scalers in a side to side fashion.

Veterinarians may find more lesions and advanced dental disease once the pet is under anesthesia, this thorough checking is not often possible in a fully awake pet. Staff may call you with options for dental x-rays and extractions depending on the extent of dental disease. Please provide a reachable phone number, it is not possible to maintain the pet for a long time under anesthesia while waiting for your approval. If you could not be reached on your phone, you may have to re-do the anesthesia procedure just for x-rays and or extractions.

After the teeth are cleaned they are polished using a low-speed drill and then teeth are washed with an antiseptic rinse.

Once the procedure is complete, pets wake up within minutes and are sent home the same day.

Q. Is Anesthesia safe for my pet?

Pet and patient safety are of foremost importance, we highly recommend pre-anesthetic blood work to thoroughly assess patient’s health and risk status for anesthesia.

Once the Blood work looks good, an intravenous catheter is placed in all the patients that are undergoing anesthesia as an additional safety measure. Intravenous catheters provide quick access to blood circulation to inject medicines and fluids to resuscitate pets in the event of complications. All our patients are hooked up to fluids immediately before and during anesthesia to quickly correct blood pressure changes if any.

An assistant must be assigned to every anesthetic procedure to specifically monitor the anesthetic parameters and take readings every five minutes from anesthetic monitors including ECG, pulse oximetry, blood pressure, temperature, respiratory rate, pulse, and anesthetic depth. Pets wake up with-in minutes of completing the procedure and are discharged the same day once confirmed to be fully awake and stable by the vet.

Advanced Low Radiation Digital Dental X-Ray Systems:

New technology dental X-ray systems perform automatic optimal exposure in one go unlike other x-ray systems that need repeat takes and manual adjustments to radiation. Automatic optimal exposure reduces patient and staff exposure to radiation and the quality of dental radiographs is better than several human dental x-ray systems.

Q. How often should I have my pet’s teeth cleaned?

It is recommended to perform yearly dental cleaning on dogs and cats. However, some breeds, often small breeds require more frequent teeth cleaning.

Q. How much does the dental cleaning cost?

Dental cleaning procedures cost anywhere from a few hundred and can quickly go up to several hundred with pre-anesthetic blood work, x-rays, extractions, pain medications, and antibiotics.

Q. What to expect after Dental cleaning?

It is normal for dogs to be coughing after any general anesthesia, because of the endotracheal tube inserted into the trachea. Pets may feel sleepy and retracted for a day or two depending on how fast they can eliminate the anesthetic drugs from their body. If you notice prolonged effects lasting more than a day, contact your veterinarian.

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Best Care Animal Hospital

Conveniently located in Matthews, North Carolina, we are thrilled to offer a wide range of veterinary services for dogs and cats in the greater Charlotte area. We provide preventative care and a number of other services to keep your pets feeling their best.
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1730 Matthews Township Pkwy
a1, Matthews, NC 28105