A dental prophylaxis (dental cleaning) is performed not only to clean the teeth, but also to evaluate the oral cavity for any other problems that might be present. The cleaning not only includes what you can see, but also the area under the gum line, which is the most important part. Before the prophylaxis can begin, the patient must be placed under general anesthetic. This will greatly increase patient comfort and effectiveness of cleaning. In addition, it allows us to place an endotracheal tube in the patient's trachea. This will protect the lungs from the bacteria that are being removed from the teeth.
Treatment planning: This step is where the teeth and entire oral cavity are evaluated, using not only our eyes, but a periodontal probe to determine if there is a periodontal pocket. Dental radiographs are taken to determine the extent of the disease present.
Supragingival cleaning: This is cleaning the area above the gum line. It is accomplished by mechanical scalers in our patients. This increases the speed that the cleaning can be performed, which decreases anesthetic time.
Subgingival cleaning: This is cleaning the area under the gum line. In our animal patients, this is one of the most important steps. The subgingival plaque and calculus is what causes periodontal disease. Cleaning the tooth surface will make the teeth look nice, but in reality has done little medically for the patient.
Polishing: The mechanical removal of the plaque and calculus causes microscopic roughening of the tooth surface. This roughening increases the retentive ability of the tooth for plaque and calculus, which will build up faster and increase the rapidity of periodontal disease progression. Polishing with fluoride will smooth the surface and decrease the adhesive ability of plaque.
Dental Charting: All of the pertinent oral findings and treatment rendered and planned in the future is placed on a dental chart in the patient’s permanent medical record. This will allow the veterinarian to follow the patient’s progress through the years.
These are the steps that we follow to ensure that the patient leaves with a clean mouth. However, dental care does not end there. Within 24 hours, plaque has already started to form on the teeth, and the periodontal disease process starts over. This is where home care comes in. Imagine what would happen in your mouth if you never brushed your teeth, all the cleanings in the world won’t keep your mouth healthy.