How Do Vets Clean Dogs' Teeth?

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How Do Vets Clean Dogs' Teeth?
How Do Vets Clean Dogs' Teeth? (Image: Photo courtesy of the author)

Why Clean a Dog's Teeth?

Good canine dental hygiene should start from puppyhood, brushing your pet's teeth daily is an important part in maintaining your dog's good health. Over time a dog's teeth can become layered with tartar and it may be necessary to have its teeth cleaned by a veterinarian. If the process is started by the owner with a toothbrush and special toothpaste for dogs, a visit to the vet may never be needed. When taking your dog to the vet for a thorough teeth cleaning, the vet must anesthetize the dog for the optimum results. It is important that your pet be in good health and up-to-date on all vaccinations.

Cleaning the Dog's Teeth

Most vets require blood work and will perform an oral examination before administering anesthesia. After a physical and clean bill of health, the vet will prep the dog for the anesthesia. Once the dog is asleep, the veterinarian will perform another exam and check each tooth for mobility, fractures, malocclusion and periodontal disease. Then the vet or vet tech will use instruments such as an ultrasonic scaler, or curette, which is similar to the tools used by a dentist. The ultrasonic cleaning along with picks, curettes, and other tools are used to scrape tartar and build-up from the dog's teeth, above and below the gumline. Like that of a deep cleaning performed by a person's dentist, subgingival (below the gumline) scaling, root planing, and subgingival curettage are also done as part of the dog's cleaning process. Root scaling aids in removal of plaque, calculus, and debris from the root surface. Subgingival curettage is the removal of the gingival pocket's diseased soft tissue's inner surface. Polishing is then performed to smooth out any defects caused by the cleaning process and to remove any additional plaque. Irrigation with water is done to remove any diseased tissue and plaque, and fluoride is applied to aid in keeping the teeth healthy.

Ultrasonic cleaning tool
Ultrasonic cleaning tool

Recovery Time

A post exam is performed and X-rays taken, if necessary. After the cleaning has been completed, the vet will return the dog to a recovery area. The dog will be ready to go home the same day and will not need this procedure done again for many months if oral hygiene is continued at home, including daily brushing of the dog's teeth.

Clean healthy teeth
Clean healthy teeth

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