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(Professional Oral Hygiene Procedures; Oral Assessment, Treatment and Prevention)

The Following Describes the Process and Procedures as Performed at Compassionate Care Veterinary Hospital of Manlius

Different veterinary hospitals offer different levels of care and commitment to pets' oral hygiene. Some do a wonderful job. Others ignore disease and pain, or are not committed to providing excellent oral health care. Proper oral health requires an investment in training and equipment. Additional training is essential for the veterinarian in advanced oral health care procedures and oral surgery. It requires skilled licensed veterinary technicians trained to perform veterinary dental hygienists procedures, anesthesia, and educated in pain prevention and control. One licensed veterinary technician should be dedicated to monitor your pet under anesthesia while another licensed technician is performing the oral hygiene procedure. Proper equipment, such as intra oral dental radiograph capabilities and a high speed, water-cooled dental drill are imperative. Excellent dental care involves informing owners of the importance of excellent oral hygiene, teaching them how to identify periodontal disease, developing home care periodontal disease preventative strategies with owner involvement and instruction, and performing oral health procedures to maintain oral health. The goal of a successful oral health program is to prevent or marginalize periodontal disease.

At Compassionate Care Veterinary Hospital, we are committed to providing the highest quality oral hygiene procedures, including advanced diagnostics and treatments. We follow the American Animal Hospital Association's published Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats. These guidelines provide a resource to help veterinary practice teams provide optimal dental care. Furthermore, we strive to stay current with the latest techniques and products. A trained, licensed veterinary technician is assigned to be dedicated to monitoring and caring for your young pet during the pre-anesthetic medication administration, during anesthesia, and until your pet is fully recovered from anesthesia after the procedure. Another licensed veterinary technician and the veterinarian work as a team during the entire oral health procedure. Local nerve blocks and advanced pain control practices are used to minimize any discomfort to your pet. We utilize proven prevention and treatment strategies, and perform digital radiography to evaluate disease below the gum line that otherwise would not be discovered. Our investment in other essential equipment, such as a high speed, water-cooled drill and the necessary instrumentation, allows us to provide expanded oral health care and extensive periodontal disease treatments.


The main reason for your dog's or cat's professional oral hygiene procedures is prevention. The goal is to prevent tooth and gum disease, and other disorders that put the health of your pet's teeth and mouth at risk. The oral health procedure begins with a consultation appointment which includes the physical examination and pre-anesthesia lab work. The evaluation, any recommended tests, and consultation are performed to tailor anesthetic and pain management, and for procedural planning. They affect the type and administration of anesthesia, and may improve the safety and effectiveness of the anesthetic processes involved with your pet's care.


For the procedure food and water are restricted, and any medication is administered or withhold as discussed and planned. Most pets are admitted the morning of the procedure, but alterations are sometimes made. During inpatient admission the care surrounding your pet's anesthesia and procedure are discussed, as well as any questions or concerns addressed.

Each pet receives a pre-anesthesia evaluation. This includes, but is not limited to a review of medical records, tests and a general physical evaluation. An oral examination is performed for evaluation of the teeth, gums, tongue, jaw alignment and dental occlusion, jaw movement, any oral discomfort, and evaluation for masses or other abnormalities.


An intravenous catheter is placed and fluids are administered to all pets receiving anesthesia. Pre-anesthetic medications are administered. General anesthesia is induced by giving an intravenous injection. A properly fitted endotracheal tube is placed in the trachea and cuffed to administer oxygen and the gas anesthesia, and to protect the airways and lungs from accidental aspiration. General anesthesia is maintained with the administration of an anesthetic gas. General anesthesia is required to properly provide dental care.

A licensed veterinary technician is assigned to monitor and care for your pet from anesthesia induction, throughout the oral health procedure and until your pet has recovered from anesthesia. Vital parameters, including body temperature, heart rate and rhythm, blood oxygen saturation, blood pressure, respiration rate and end-tidal carbon dioxide levels (the measurement of exhaled carbon dioxide) provide important information to adjust the anesthetic protocol.


(Professional Oral Hygiene Procedure or Oral Assessment, Treatment and Prevention)

  1. Oral examination under general anesthesia
    • A detailed evaluation of individual teeth and supporting structures for abnormalities such as increased mobility, evaluation of the gingival pocket depth around each tooth to identify gum and bone attachment loss, fractured teeth, masses, etc.
  2. Gross calculus removal
  3. Intraoral digital radiography
    • Essentially all pets require whole mouth intraoral dental radiographs to evaluate the approximately 60% of each tooth that is hidden under the gum line, as well as the supporting bone and connective tissue structures under the gums
  4. After the oral assessment of the detailed examination and radiographs, a treatment plan is developed
    • Any new findings and treatment options are discussed with owners and consent is obtained for the discussed treatment plan
  5. Removal of plaque and tartar
    • Above the gum line using forceps, ultrasonic scaler and hand instruments to remove plaque and calculus from the teeth
    • Below the gum line using curettes and special ultrasonic cleaning tips are used to remove plaque and calculus from the tooth root surfaces
  6. Removal of the diseased tissue in the gingival pocket using curettes
    • Promotes healing and gingival reattachment to the tooth surface
  7. Polishing of the teeth with a polishing paste
    • To smooth out the defects on the tooth surfaces
    • Helps remove any residual plaque
  8. Irrigation of the teeth and gingival pockets with water or a medicated rinse
    • Removes debris and diseased tissue
  9. Post cleaning examination of the teeth and gingival pockets
    • Inspection for the presence of any additional plaque and calculus
    • Exploration for any periodontal disease pockets
    • Evaluation for any teeth defects or disease
    • Post cleaning diagnostics
  10. Dental charting during the procedure
    • To record disease, missing or extra teeth, loose or fractured teeth, periodontal pocket depths, any significant pathology
  11. Therapy and additional pain medication as indicated by the oral evaluation, diagnostics and treatment plan
  12. Post operative intraoral radiographs after extractions or if indicated for other procedures
  13. Application of fluoride and/or plaque prevention barrier

Your pet is closely monitored by the licensed veterinary technician until recovery from anesthesia has been completed. Pain medication is continued to maintain patient comfort.

A discharge appointment is scheduled for you to discuss the procedure, ask any questions and to go over the home care plan. The home care preventative plan includes the immediate post-operative care instructions, the progress evaluations, and the dental home care preventative care you are able to or willing to learn to do. In addition, any dental products and dental diets will be discussed.


Home care is the single most important thing you can do to maintain your pet's oral health. Plaque prevention is paramount to protecting teeth between regular visits. Plaque is constantly being made and deposited in your pet's mouth. The goal of dental home care is to minimize plaque formation and to remove plaque from tooth surfaces and gingival pockets before it mineralizes into calculus. This can occur within days of a teeth cleaning. Unless you are able and willing, and your pet is accepting of daily brushing as a part of home care, significant periodontal disease will develop. 85% of adult pets have periodontal disease.The mechanical action of brushing teeth is the most important factor in the remove of plaque above and below the gum line. Other strategies can decrease and slow down plaque accumulation, but the most effective home care is brushing.

Your success at home will greatly influence the frequency of progress evaluations and professional cleaning. Regular dental care is essential to preventing more complicated dental problems from developing. Good oral hygiene practices that include daily brushing, eating a healthy diet that supports dental health and visiting your veterinarian for twice a year oral evaluations (or more often if necessary) are the best way to keep your pet's teeth and gums healthy. With an appropriate home-care program and timely professional oral hygiene procedures, it is possible for your dog or cat to live a long life and not lose any teeth to periodontal disease.