What should I expect at my pets dental appointment?

February 5, 2015
hello world!

First off, Oral Examination

veterinary examinationThe doctor will note any changes in body weight, eating habits, or other behaviors that indicate dental disease. Abnormal signs to look for include:

  • pain
  • drooling
  • bad breath
  • discolored, fractured, mobile, missing teeth
  • inflammation
  • bleeding.

The complete examination includes, probing, and radiographic examination.  Then a precise treatment plan will be set in motion.

Step 1: Prior to Anesthesia

Upon drop off, we will run bloodwork before we start the procedure. The reason we recommend blood work is to check blood counts (red and white blood cells) as well as liver and kidney functions. This is so we can ensure your pet is strong enough to go under anesthesia.

At this time, the Doctor will have examined your pet and vitals will be taken of the heart, lungs and temperature.

Preoperative care includes IV catheterization to facilitate administration of pre-anesthetic medications and IV Fluids throughout the procedure.

Step 2: Induction

General Anesthesia with intubation (when a tube is placed into the windpipe via the nose or mouth) is necessary to prevent inhalation of water and debris.  In order to intubate, the administration of Propofol, a short-acting anesthetic agent, is necessary.


During anesthesia, a trained member of our team is dedicated to continuously monitoring and recording vital parameters such as body temperature, heart rate and rhythm, respiration and blood pressure.

Step 3: Dental Cleaning and Polishing

chihuahuas and toothbrush

Using a hand scaler, the teeth are scaled not only on the surface but also underneath the gum line and inside the teeth to remove tartar.

The mechanical removal of the plaque and calculus with the hand scaler causes microscopic roughening of the tooth surface. This roughening increases the chance for plaque and calculus, which will build up faster and increase the rapidity of periodontal disease progression.

Polishing will smooth the surface and decrease the adhesive ability of plaque.

Step 4: Dental Radiographs / Charting

Dental radiographs are taken to determine the extent of the disease process present especially in places we can’t see: under the gum line.

All of the oral findings and treatment planned is placed on a dental chart in the patient’s permanent medical record. This will allow the veterinarian to follow the patient’s progress (or regression) through the years.

Step 5: Treatment Planning

This step is where the teeth and entire oral cavity are evaluated, using not only our eyes, but a periodontal probe to determine if there is a periodontal pocket. Just like at the human dentist! A plan is developed (with the owner's input) to reestablish the patient’s oral health.

Step 6: Extractions (if applicable)

Wobbly, fractured and discolored teeth are carefully loosened with an elevator, then extracted. X-rays of the extraction sites are necessary to confirm that the entire tooth and root have been removed.

Step 7: Suturing

Suturing is then required if any bigger teeth are removed. This helps keep food out of the sites and prevents infection. The sutures should dissolve in a few weeks.

Finally, at home aftercare. 

You will need to continue to remain observant of your pet’s symptoms.


  • Red swollen gums and brownish teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Frequent pawing or rubbing at the face and/or mouth
  • Reluctant to eat hard foods

Just like humans it is important to provide professional dental care for your pet as well as at home cleaning. Daily tooth brushing can help prevent plaque buildup between dental procedures that leads to related bad breath and dental disease.

If you have any further questions about what happens during your pets dental, please speak to a member of our team. We will be happy to help!