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The Role Of Anesthesia In A Pet Dental Exam

By now, most of us understand the importance of good dental care for ourselves. We see the dentist twice per year, brush and (hopefully) floss daily, and follow our dentist’s recommendations for follow up care. Taking care of our pet’s teeth is just as important, and neglecting this area of wellness can lead to a host of health problems for pets.

We generally recommend a yearly pet dental exam and cleaning for our patients to remove plaque and tartar buildup, check for and correct underlying problems, and to aid in the prevention of dental disease.

What To Expect During A Pet Dental Exam

The pet dental exam will begin while he or is awake. Your veterinarian will take a full medical history of your pet before looking at and feeling his or her head and neck to check for pain or abnormalities. A brief oral exam will be performed to look for obvious signs of dental disease such as bad breath, and to ascertain the condition of the teeth and gums.

Anesthesia is an important part of your pet’s dental examination and cleaning. Once your pet has been sedated the remainder of the exam and cleaning procedure will take place as follows:

  • A complete oral examination and digital X-rays to identify dental issues below the gum line
  • A full cleaning below the gum line (where periodontal disease begins)
  • Professional scaling and polishing to remove plaque and tartar from the surface of the teeth

Most pets are able to go home right after they wake up, and can resume eating and drinking as normal. Your veterinarian will give you recommendations for follow up home care and professional care as needed.

Why Anesthesia Is So Important

Many pet owners are understandably concerned about their pet being sedated during a dental examination and cleaning. Clinics offering anesthesia-free cleanings can be tempting for pet owners looking to save money or to spare their pet the risks associated with anesthesia.

The problem with anesthesia-free cleaning is that your pet will very likely not receive a complete examination and cleaning, and may continue to suffer from untreated dental disease. Here’s why sedation is so important during pet dental procedures:

  • Pet’s aren’t capable of keeping their mouths open and waiting patiently for their teeth to be cleaned, like humans are.
  • Half of the tooth lies below the gum line, which cannot be properly examined without the use of sedation. Pets can continue to suffer from dental disease and incur future problems if the whole tooth is not properly addressed early on.
  • When a pet is anesthetized, he or she is receiving anesthetic gas to the lungs via a tube, also known as intubation. The tube protects water and debris from entering the lungs during a cleaning.
  • Because a pet is not conscious during the cleaning, he or she is not experiencing any fear, stress, or pain.

The health and safety of your pet is our top priority at Pet Medical Center And Spa. Our veterinarians and staff are highly trained in the use of anesthesia, and only the minimum amount needed is used.

Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s dental health, or if you would like to set up an appointment for your pet.