You may wonder what your pet’s dental cleaning entails. Simply tackling their stinky breath and dirty mouth with a toothbrush and dollop of chicken-flavored toothpaste is not enough. While daily toothbrushing is essential to oral health care, a daily regimen does not chip away stuck-on tartar the same way veterinary dental cleanings do. Plus, a professional cleaning includes a lot more than toothbrushing. 

Like you, your pet should have a regularly scheduled professional dental cleaning. In fact, when your veterinarian performs your pet’s comprehensive oral health assessment and treatment (COHAT), they clean your furry companion’s teeth, and evaluate their oral health above and below the gumline. Learn what your pet’s professional dental cleaning entails as our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers at Waller team explains each COHAT step.

Prepping your pet for a COHAT

For our team’s safety, and for your pet’s pain and anxiety management, your pet will be anesthetized during their COHAT. Therefore, before scheduling the procedure, your veterinarian ensures your pet is healthy enough to tolerate anesthetic agents by performing a physical exam and preanesthetic testing to assess their organ function, immune system, and overall health. During the physical exam, your veterinarian also records your pet’s baseline vital signs, which helps them monitor the patient’s response to anesthesia during their dental cleaning. 

In addition, physical exam, blood work, and any additional preanesthetic testing results guide the formulation of your pet’s unique anesthetic protocol, which minimizes their pain, anxiety, and adverse effects. Our veterinarians customize each pet’s anesthetic protocol to ensure they are as safe as possible when anesthetized.

Making a veterinary dental treatment plan

After your pet is prepped for their dental cleaning, our veterinary professionals induce anesthesia, which enables us to perform a thorough oral cavity exam, probing along the gumline for infection or disease pockets. Because more than half the tooth structure lies below the gumline, we also take X-rays, which are essential for detecting painful conditions such as broken and retained roots, abscesses, and resorptive lesions.

Once our veterinarian determines your pet’s oral health status, they create a treatment plan. Some pets require no more than a routine cleaning, while others may need tooth extractions to eliminate pain and infection.

Performing your pet’s dental cleaning

During the teeth-cleaning portion of your pet’s COHAT, your pet’s veterinarian uses hand tools to remove as much plaque and tartar as possible, and then uses an ultrasonic scaler to chisel away the remaining tough buildup. The veterinarian cleans above and below the gumline to eliminate oral bacteria, especially because a toothbrush cannot reach below the gingival tissue. After your pet’s teeth are free of tartar buildup, our veterinarian polishes the enamel smooth to help prevent plaque from sticking to any ridges. Lastly, the veterinarian applies a fluoride treatment to help strengthen your pet’s tooth enamel. 

If your pet requires additional dental therapies, such as extractions, our veterinarians can typically perform them during the routine dental cleaning. However, advanced oral procedures, such as root canals, vital pulp therapy, or bonded sealant applications, must be performed at a veterinary dentistry hospital.

Providing at-home dental care

After your pet’s COHAT has been completed and they have recovered from anesthesia, you are free to bring them home and resume their normal routine. Pets generally handle dental procedures well, even after tooth extraction. Once diseased teeth are removed, pets often immediately feel much better, and exhibit an improved appetite and overall happiness. However, a routine dental cleaning can cause some gingival soreness, due to the probing and below-gumline cleaning, so your pet may prefer softened or canned food for the next day or so. 

The day after your pet’s COHAT, you may initiate daily toothbrushing, and implement an at-home dental care plan. Although daily toothbrushing is best for helping maintain your pet’s oral health, you can also feed them veterinarian-approved chews and treats, add enzymatic products to their food and water, and use oral cleaning wipes. 

If your pet has horrible breath, they are likely due for a professional dental cleaning. Give our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers at Waller team a call to schedule your pet’s appointment, so they can have the freshest breath in all of Southeast Texas.