If you’ve ever wondered about the process of cleaning a dog’s teeth, look no further. In this informative article, we’ll take you through the step-by-step process of dog teeth cleaning, from the initial preparations to the tools and techniques used, and what happens after the dental cleaning. Discover why cleaning a dog’s teeth is more complicated than a human’s and learn about the situations where a board-certified veterinary dentist may be required. Additionally, find out about the cost of dental cleaning and the importance of at-home dental care for your furry friend. Get ready for a comprehensive understanding of the dog teeth cleaning process.
Before the dog’s teeth cleaning begins
Before the dog’s teeth cleaning procedure begins, there are several important steps that need to be taken to ensure the safety and success of the dental cleaning.
Preparation for the dental procedure
Once you drop off your dog at the veterinary hospital, the dental team will start preparing him for the dental procedure. A veterinary technician will place an intravenous (IV) catheter to administer fluids and medication during the procedure. They will also collect a blood sample for pre-anesthetic blood work, including a complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry panel. These tests are crucial to assess your dog’s overall health and ensure that he is a suitable candidate for anesthesia.
Physical examination and risk assessment
Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination of your dog to check for any abnormalities that may increase his risk during anesthesia. They will assess his vital signs, listen to his heart and lungs, and examine his overall body condition. If any abnormalities are found, such as heart murmurs or organ dysfunction, the dental procedure may need to be rescheduled for another day or additional precautions may need to be taken.
Creation of sedation and anesthetic plan
Based on the physical examination findings and your dog’s medical history, your veterinarian will create a customized sedation and anesthetic plan. This plan takes into account your dog’s age, pre-existing health conditions, and any medications he may be taking. The goal is to ensure that your dog is adequately sedated and comfortable during the procedure while minimizing the risk of complications.
Placement of endotracheal tube
Once your dog is anesthetized, a veterinary technician will place an endotracheal tube in his airway (trachea). This tube facilitates the delivery of oxygen and anesthetic gas directly to his lungs and ensures a secure airway. It also protects the respiratory system from the bacteria and debris that may be aerosolized during the dental cleaning.
Connection to anesthetic monitoring equipment
To ensure the safety of your dog during the dental procedure, he will be connected to anesthetic monitoring equipment. This equipment constantly monitors his vital signs, including heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, blood pressure, and electrocardiogram (ECG). Any significant changes in these parameters can be promptly detected and addressed by the veterinary team.
When to see a board-certified veterinary dentist
In some cases, your primary care veterinarian may refer you and your dog to a board-certified veterinary dentist. These specialists have advanced training and expertise in performing complex dental procedures. Some situations that may warrant a referral to a board-certified veterinary dentist include the extraction of lower canine teeth, root canal treatments, excision of oral masses, orthodontic therapy, and management of traumatic jaw or tooth fractures. Consulting a specialist ensures that your dog receives the best possible care for these specific dental issues.
Tools and techniques for a dog dental cleaning
During a dog dental cleaning, the veterinary team utilizes various tools and techniques to effectively clean your dog’s teeth and address any dental issues that may be present.
Removal of dental calculus
The dental cleaning process begins with the removal of dental calculus, which is the hardened plaque that accumulates on the teeth. A veterinary technician uses an ultrasonic scaler, similar to the one used by human dental hygienists, to gently and effectively remove the calculus from your dog’s teeth.
Removal of tartar under the gum line
In addition to removing visible dental calculus, the veterinary technician also removes tartar that has accumulated underneath the gum line. Tartar below the gum line can contribute to periodontal disease, a common dental condition in dogs. The veterinary technician uses specialized instruments to carefully clean below the gum line and ensure the thorough removal of tartar.
To assess the health of your dog’s teeth and identify any hidden dental issues, dental radiographs (x-rays) are taken. These radiographs provide a detailed image of the teeth and their roots, allowing the veterinarian to identify abnormalities such as tooth decay, root abscesses, or bone loss. Dental radiographs are an essential part of a comprehensive dental cleaning procedure.
Examination of the teeth
Once the teeth have been cleaned and the radiographs have been taken, the veterinarian performs a thorough examination of each tooth. They look for signs of fractures, excessive wear, discoloration, and mobility of the teeth. Any teeth that show signs of significant damage or disease may need to be extracted.
Identification of teeth in need of extraction
During the examination, the veterinarian identifies any teeth that require extraction. This may include teeth with severe periodontal disease, root abscesses, fractures, or teeth with mobility. Proper identification of teeth in need of extraction is crucial to maintain your dog’s oral health and prevent further complications.
Cost of dental cleaning
The cost of a dog dental cleaning can vary depending on several factors such as the geographic location and the size of your dog. It is important to understand the potential costs involved in a dental cleaning procedure to make informed decisions about your dog’s healthcare.
Routine dental cleaning cost
A routine dental cleaning, which includes a full oral examination, dental radiographs, and cleaning of the teeth, typically ranges from $500 to $1000. However, the exact cost may vary based on your location and the specific veterinary hospital you choose.
If your dog requires any tooth extractions during the dental procedure, the cost may increase. The cost of extractions can range from $1500 to $2500 with a primary care veterinarian. Keep in mind that the cost of having a dental procedure performed by a board-certified veterinary dentist is typically higher due to the specialized care provided.
Importance of pre-anesthetic bloodwork and dental radiographs
Pre-anesthetic bloodwork and dental radiographs are essential components of a comprehensive dental cleaning procedure. While they may add to the overall cost of the procedure, they provide valuable information about your dog’s health and help ensure the safety and success of the dental cleaning. In some cases, the cost of these diagnostic tests may be included in the overall cost of the dental cleaning.
Pet insurance coverage
Many pet insurance policies offer coverage for dental prophylaxis and any additional dental work that may be required. It is worth considering pet insurance to help alleviate the financial burden of dental cleanings and other veterinary procedures. Be sure to review the coverage details and exclusions of your pet insurance policy to determine the extent of dental coverage.
Dog tooth extractions
In some cases, tooth extractions may be necessary to address dental issues such as severe periodontal disease, fractured teeth, or root abscesses. Dog tooth extractions require a multi-step process to ensure the successful removal of the affected teeth.
Numbing the tooth area
Before the extraction, the region around the affected tooth is numbed using a local anesthetic. This ensures that your dog does not experience pain during the extraction procedure.
Creation of gingival flap
A small incision is made in the surrounding gingiva (gums) to create a gingival flap. This flap allows access to the tooth and the underlying bone for extraction.
Burring away bone overlaying the roots
Using a high-speed dental drill, the veterinarian carefully removes the bone that covers the roots of the tooth. This process is known as “making a window” over each root. It allows the veterinarian to visualize the position of the root within the bone, aiding in its extraction.
Splitting the crown of multi-rooted teeth
Multi-rooted teeth may have two or three roots. Prior to extraction, the crown of these teeth is split into single-rooted sections using a dental drill with a cutting bit. This allows for easier and more precise extraction of each root.
Stretching and tearing of periodontal ligament
Each tooth root is attached to the surrounding bone by a band of tissue called the periodontal ligament. To release the root from the bone, the periodontal ligament needs to be carefully stretched and torn. A dental root elevator, a specialized tool, is used to perform this step. The dental root elevator is inserted into the space between the root and the bone, and gentle rotational movements are applied to stretch and tear the ligament.
Use of dental root elevator
The dental root elevator is an important instrument used to elevate the tooth root from the socket in the bone. It is inserted into the root socket, and a combination of rotational movements and gentle pressure is applied to detach the root from the bone. The process is repeated until the root is mobile and can be safely extracted.
Time and challenges of extracting roots
The time required to extract a tooth root can vary depending on various factors such as the severity of periodontal disease, the presence of scar tissue, and the brittleness of the root. Some roots may be easier to extract and take as little as 30 seconds, while others may be more challenging and take up to 15 minutes. Brittle roots can break into multiple pieces, requiring additional bone removal to retrieve each piece.
Verification of complete root removal
After the root extraction, a dental radiograph is taken to verify that all of the tooth roots have been entirely removed. This step is crucial to ensure that no fragments of the root remain in the socket, which could lead to future complications.
Softening of sharp bone edges
Any sharp edges of the surrounding bone are softened using a high-speed dental drill with a rounding burr. This step ensures a smooth and comfortable healing process for your dog.
Suturing of gingival flap
To complete the extraction procedure, the gingival flap is carefully pulled over the top of the bone and sutured to the surrounding gingiva. This helps secure the flap in place and promotes proper healing.
What happens after the dental cleaning
After the dental cleaning procedure is complete, there are several steps and instructions to follow to ensure your dog’s comfort and promote proper healing.
Polishing of teeth
The dental cleaning is finalized with the polishing of your dog’s teeth. Polishing helps to smooth out any microscopic scratches on the enamel left by the ultrasonic scaler. These scratches can promote plaque accumulation, so polishing helps reduce this risk.
Application of dental barrier sealant
A dental barrier sealant may be applied to your dog’s teeth to provide additional protection. This sealant acts as a barrier against plaque-forming bacteria, helping to prevent the attachment of bacteria to the teeth in the first two weeks following the dental procedure.
Wake-up from anesthesia
After the dental procedure is finished, your dog will be gradually awakened from anesthesia. A veterinary technician will closely monitor him during this process, ensuring his safety and comfort. It is important to give your dog time to fully recover from the effects of anesthesia before taking him home.
Removal of endotracheal tube
Once your dog is fully awake and able to maintain proper breathing on his own, the veterinary technician will remove the endotracheal tube. This is done carefully to ensure a smooth transition and minimize any discomfort for your dog.
Recovery from anesthesia
After the removal of the endotracheal tube, your dog will be monitored closely to assess his recovery from anesthesia. The veterinary team will observe his vital signs and behavior, ensuring that he is alert and responsive.
Before taking your dog home, your veterinarian will provide you with specific post-operative instructions. These instructions may include information on when to give your dog his first meal after the dental procedure, what type of food to feed him over the next several days, and any additional medications or pain relief that may be necessary. They will also address any potential side effects or complications to watch out for during the recovery period. Regular follow-up visits may be scheduled to monitor your dog’s healing progress.
Taking care of your dog’s teeth is an important aspect of their overall health and well-being. Routine dental cleanings and proper oral hygiene can help prevent dental disease and keep your dog’s smile bright and healthy. By understanding the process and importance of dog teeth cleaning, you can make informed decisions about your dog’s dental care and ensure a happy and healthy life for them.