What to expect during your pet's dental exam and cleaning

pet dental exam

When you go to your dentist for an exam and cleaning, you have a pretty good idea about what’s going to happen, but what’s the process when you take your dog or cat for a dental cleaning appointment?

First, general anesthesia is required to reduce stress and pain, and to ensure an accurate dental exam and cleaning. This allows your pet to be as comfortable as possible.


We take precautions prior to and during the anesthetic procedure in order to maintain the highest safety levels. Your pet will likely go home the same day as the procedure and may seem a little groggy for the rest of the day.

During the exam

Your health care team will:

  • Thoroughly examine your pet’s mouth.
  • Use a dental probe to evaluate gum bleeding and periodontal pockets, and to check for defects on the tooth surface where food can accumulate or which may be causing irritation.
  • Take x-rays of the teeth to evaluate the roots and underlying bone.
  • Discuss your options if any teeth are badly affected by dental disease.


After the exam

Your health care team will:

  • Perform tooth scaling to remove tartar above and below the gum line.
  • Polish the teeth to remove microscopic scratches and decrease the rate of subsequent plaque buildup.
  • Perform a deep cleaning or remove significantly affected teeth of sample any areas of concern.


What about anesthesia-free cleanings?

The American Veterinary Dental College advises against anesthesia-free cleaning because the procedure can cause pain, may be unsafe for your pet and/or the operator, and doesn’t allow cleaning or inspection below the gum line, which is important to help delay periodontal disease.

We recommend thorough dental x-rays and cleaning in order to help keep your pet’s teeth and oral cavity as healthy as possible.