What is a professional dental cleaning?

A professional dental cleaning consists of 5 main parts: physical exam, anesthesia, scaling, x-rays, and additional procedures when appropriate. All work together in removing tartar and bacteria to ensure a healthy mouth.


The physical exam

A physical and oral exam while awake is where it all starts. The oral exam allows your veterinarians to identify troublesome areas of the mouth that may be bothering the pet. While there, local lymph nodes and salivary glands can be examined. Lastly, this is a great time to listen to a patient’s heart and lungs and locate their pulse prior to anesthesia. 


Anesthesia is required in dental cleanings to get a thorough look at the mouth, including the teeth, gumline, and entire oral cavity. This allows veterinarians to ensure the cleaning is performed properly while minimizing risk to the patient. Pre-sedation can help reduce the amount of anesthetic needed, allowing for a smooth procedure, and prompt recovery.

Oral exam under anesthesia

Once anesthetized, a complete oral exam is performed. This is a great time to locate problem areas not visualized on the original physical exam. We can also look for “pockets” in the gumline that can be sources of discomfort for pets.

Scaling, Probing, & Dental x-rays

All teeth will be scaled on all surfaces along with a thorough cleaning below the gumline. Dental x-rays are then performed to identify the roots of the teeth and identify any issues that may warrant further investigation. If seen, you dentist may recommend extraction or further analysis is needed.


Once all oral procedures are completed, the teeth are polished. The goal of this step is to leave as smooth a surface as possible on the teeth to discourage pesky bacteria and plaque from growing on the teeth.


Lastly, patients are allows to wake up and recovery slowly from the anesthetized procedure. Most always pets are allowed to return home the same day and given appropriate medications if additional procedures were required.


Talk to your vet today about their dental cleaning practices and if this type of procedure if right for your pet!

Happy smiling!

Dr. Nicky

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