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The Gold Standard Of Dental Care


To begin, a thorough exam is done by the veterinarian to ensure there are no health concerns that would prevent the dental from being performed. Bloodwork is also done to evaluate organ function to ensure your companion is healthy enough to undergo anesthesia. In healthy patients over 7-years-old, abnormalities are found 25% of the time. That's why it is so important to perform the blood tests even if your pet appears healthy.

On the day of the procedure, your pet will receive another complete physical exam by the veterinarian to make sure nothing has changed since the previous visit. After the exam, your pet will be given an injection to help sedate and calm them prior to anesthesia. This injection is typically a narcotic combined with a sedative that will help keep them comfortable and relaxed during their stay. Once the premedication injection has taken effect, an IV catheter is placed and

IV fluids are started to ensure your companion stays hydrated and maintains normal blood pressure during the dental procedure. The IV catheter also ensures immediate access should any drugs need to be administered.

The next step in the process is to induce anesthesia. We use Sevoflurane gas, the safest human-grade anesthetic, which has significantly fewer complications when compared to other anesthetics. While under anesthesia, your companion is hooked up to an ECG to monitor heart rate and rhythm, a pulse oximeter to monitor oxygen levels and a monitor that oversees respiratory rate, body temperature, blood pressure, and CO2 levels. Blood pressure and CO2 levels are the two most important parameters to monitor in an anesthetized patient.

Finally, the actual dental prophylaxis can be started. Our dental hygienists and registered veterinary technicians have been trained by a board-certified veterinary dentist to clean and extract teeth. The methods used to clean the teeth of dogs and cats are the same methods used on humans. Tartar is scaled off with an ultrasonic scaler, root planning (deep cleaning under the gumline) is done and the teeth are polished. Each tooth (dogs have 42 teeth, cats have 32 teeth) is thoroughly evaluated and pocket depth noted. If a tooth is loose, abscessed, fractured, or has a pocket depth of 6 mm or more, it should be extracted. In some instances, a board-certified veterinary dentist can perform a root canal or other specialized procedures to save compromised teeth. The veterinarian who is overseeing your pet’s dental will inform you if this is an option. If at any time, you would like a second opinion from a veterinary dental specialist, we will gladly set up the referral.

Dental x-rays are always recommended to assess tooth health under the gumline. About 10% of patients will have abnormalities under the gumline that will not be obvious on an oral exam. For example, a normal-looking tooth can have a tooth root abscess or the site where a tooth is missing may have healthy gum but retained roots that should be removed.

Once the dental prophylaxis has been finished, we closely monitor your companion during the post-anesthetic recovery period. Our recovery nurse will sit with your companion and continue to monitor their vital signs until they are awake. Once they are able to stand and walk, your companion will be returned to their enclosure and offered a small meal.


The doctors and staff at Cuyamaca Animal Hospital understand your concerns and are here to help answer any questions you may have about the dental care that we provide. We take great pride in providing the highest quality care and service for our dental patients.


When comparing veterinary hospital dental prophylaxis services, here are some important questions to ask:

1. Is Sevoflurane anesthesia used?

2. Is pain medication sent home if teeth are extracted?

3. Are nerve blocks performed prior to extractions?

4. Are digital dental x-rays offered?

5. Are the staff performing the dental procedures trained by a board-certified veterinary dentist?

6. What kind of monitoring is done during anesthesia? In addition to the ECG and pulse oximetry, blood pressure, CO2 levels and body temperature should always be monitored.

7. Will a recovery nurse sit with your companion and monitor vital signs during the post-anesthetic recovery period?


Questions? Ready to take the next step?

We're here for you, every step of the way.

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