Proper dental care involves more than just scraping tartar off the teeth. Thorough dental care involves scaling, probing and polishing. These can only be accomplished on an anesthetized pet. It is not realistic to think that somebody can scrape tartar off of an awake pet and be as thorough as we can on an anesthetized pet. When these procedures are performed properly we can reverse the gingivitis process and keep the teeth and gums healthier for a longer period of time.
Scaling teeth is greatly facilitated by a special instrument called an ultrasonic scaler. By vibrating tartar off the teeth with the scaler we cause minimal trauma to the tooth enamel. In addition, the rapid manner in which it removes the tartar minimizes anesthetic time. The gentle nature of the scaler allows us to clean under the gumline and not irritate the gums.
A special dental instrument is used to crack off large pieces of tartar before we use the scaler. This enables us to clean the teeth faster, another method to minimize anesthetic time. It also reduces wear on the ultrasonic scaler tip.
We use a specialized ultrasonic scaler that is made for animal teeth.
The tip vibrates 18,000 times per second, and literally vibrates tartar off the teeth. It does not harm the enamel, and lets us clean the teeth faster than doing it by hand. It continually sprays water to minimize heat buildup which could irritate the gums.
When the tartar is heavy, like this canine tooth, it takes longer to remove. To minimize any trauma to the tooth’s enamel or gum, we drip additional water on the area being scaled. Without the scaler this tooth would need hand scaling, a process that would take substantially longer.
The ultrasonic scaler does a thorough job of removing the visible tartar. It also excels at removing tartar under the gumline where it can not be seen. This is a critical part of the scaling process. Only when this step is performed are the teeth properly cleaned.
After scaling a special dental probe is carefully inserted under the gum to determine the degree of involvement. IF there is a pocket we will pack the opening with doxycycline to restore the gums to normal health.
After the teeth are scaled and probed we spray them with chlorhexidine to further help eliminate the bacteria that are causing gingivitis.
Polishing the teeth makes them look whiter. It also smoothes off the enamel surface and makes it more difficult for bacteria to adhere. Once bacteria get re-established, the cycle of plaque leading to tartar and eventually gingivitis gets started all over again.