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Frequently Asked Questions

What is non-anesthetic dental cleaning?

Our cleaning procedure involves hand scaling of facial and lingual surfaces of the teeth (including below the gum line) and polishing of all exposed surfaces. Animals are fully awake during the process and lie in our lap while we work. All cleanings are done under the supervision of a licensed vet to ensure that every pet receives appropriate care.

Is this “just as good” as a cleaning under anesthesia?

The quality of our cleanings is comparable to a human dental cleaning, however, what we do is only a cleaning while the procedure done on pets under anesthesia generally includes much more. Unlike in human dentistry, extractions and dental x-rays cannot be done without anesthesia, so this is a factor that must always be considered when assessing whether non-anesthetic dental cleaning is appropriate at this time. Does your pet need just a cleaning, or do they need more than that? 

Does my pet need just a cleaning, or do they need more than that?

We assess your pet’s dental health before and during every cleaning. Before each cleaning, our vet will look for oral health issues that obviate the need for a cleaning under anesthesia. If your pet has loose teeth, extreme gum loss, signs of infection, or significantly broken teeth, our vet will very likely recommend a full-service comprehensive dental procedure under anesthesia instead of our non-anesthetic procedure.

Some more nuanced signs of dental decline are not always obvious during the vet exam. During the non-anesthetic cleaning itself, we will look for more subtle clues (such as pocketing between teeth and poor gum condition) and let you know if we think your pet needs a dental procedure under anesthesia in the near future. It's important to understand, however, that without dental x-rays, we are limited in our diagnostic capabilities and cannot detect early bone loss if there are no external signs of decline. 

Why does my pet need an exam before each cleaning?

The CA Vet Board requires an exam by a veterinarian before any medical procedure can be performed on your pet. Because the condition of your pet's mouth may change between cleanings, an exam ensures that non-anesthetic cleaning continues to be appropriate for your pet.

anesthesia-free teeth cleaning
What kind of tools are used and how are they cleaned?

We use the same type of manual scalers and curettes that are used for human dental cleanings. All of our scaling instruments are sterilized in an autoclave prior to each use. 

How long will the cleaning take?

Dental cleanings for dogs generally take 25-40 minutes, depending on the cooperation of the dog and how dirty their teeth are. Cleanings for cats generally take 15-20 minutes. 

What if my pet resists?

It is common for some pets to squirm a bit initially but they typically settle down and tolerate the cleaning better than most people expect. This is not always the case, however, and if your pet exhibits undue stress we will stop the cleaning. 

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