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Frederick MD 21703

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What is a Veterinary Dental Prophylaxis?

Julie cleaning Blue’s teeth
Ultrasonic scaling of tooth surface

All of our pets will need a dental prophylaxis in their lifetime.  If you have any question of whether your pet needs a dental cleaning, the staff at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital would be more than happy to help.  The following is information to explain how a veterinary dental prophylaxis is performed.
Veterinary dental prophylaxis are done not only to clean and evaluate your pet’s teeth, but also to PREVENT oral and periodontal disease. Dental prophylaxis is a multi-step process that includes cleaning the surface of the teeth, and more importantly, cleaning sub-gingivally, or under the gum line. Plaque and calculus that accumulate under the gum line is what causes periodontal disease.

A veterinary dental prophylaxis at Kingsbrook Animal Hospital includes the following steps:

-Oral evaluation:  A veterinarian and a registered veterinary technician will evaluate your pet’s teeth, gums, tongue and inside of cheeks for potential infection, abnormalities or disease.

-Dental cleaning:  Calculus, or tartar, is removed from the tooth’s surface by hand scaling. Any tough tartar that remains on surface is then removed with an ultrasonic scaler.

-Subgingival cleaning:  A hand scaler called a curette, is used to remove tartar from underneath the gum line without causing damage to the gingiva.

-Polishing:  Smoothing the surface of the tooth decreases areas for bacteria and plaque to build up. Polishing also gets rid of small, hard to see debris still left on tooth after scaling.

-Irrigation:  The pet’s mouth is rinsed to remove any remaining debris from the teeth and tongue.

-Fluoride:  Applying fluoride after cleaning helps harden the tooth surface and prevent plaque build up.
-Dental Radiographs:  Whole mouth radiographs are often recommended to evaluate the bones of the jaw and roots of the teeth.  Abnormalities are found under a seemingly normal gum line.  Look to the future for the next Kingsbrook Animal Hospital blog on why your veterinarian might recommend dental radiographs!

-Dental charting:  Any findings such as gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), missing, loose or to be extracted teeth are noted on a dental chart.  A dental probe is used between the gum line and tooth to see if any gingival pockets exist.  Gingival pockets can lead to tooth decay, abscesses or tooth loss and therefore are noted on the pet’s dental chart. The dental chart is saved in the pet’s record for future reference by the veterinarian.

Teeth after cleaning and polishing
Teeth before cleaning

If you have any questions regarding your pet’s oral health, please contact Kingsbrook Animal Hospital in Frederick, MD at 301-631-6900 and ask to speak to one of our friendly technicians.  


Mon – Fri: 7:45am – 6:00pm
Sat:    7:45am – 1:00pm