Dental Cleanings for Cats and Dogs- Importance and Benefits

Professional dental cleaning performed by a Lange Animal Clinic Veterinarian is often indicated when periodontal disease is present.  Our own teeth are scaled by a dentist or hygienist – we sit in the chair and open our mouth when requested, letting the professional do their work. While the principles of good oral hygiene and dental health are the same for dogs and cats as for people, there are some significant differences. Humans understand why the procedure is important, and we typically do not need sedation or restraint. Neither is true for our pets.

Here are some very interesting statistics and facts:

  • Eighty-five percent of all pets have periodontal disease by the time they are 3 years of age.
  • Dental disease can result in bad breath, painful chewing, and tooth loss.
  • Bacteria under the gum can travel to the heart, kidneys, and liver.
  • A professional dental cleaning is required to remove plaque and tartar from a pet’s teeth and to assess the health of the mouth.
  • A thorough dental cleaning requires that the pet be under anesthesia.
  • Regular at-home dental care can help improve the health of your pet’s mouth and lengthen the intervals between professional dental cleanings.

Another important difference between human and veterinary dental practice is that we tell the dentist when there is discomfort; to ensure that nothing is missed in dogs or cats, our patients require a thorough oral examination as part of a dental scaling procedure. Additionally, bloodwork is required in advance of a dental cleaning to ensure your pet is not experiencing any other health concerns.  Occasionally, a Lange Animal Clinic Veterinarian may recommend dental radiographs as well.


Every professional dental cleaning starts with a review of the patient’s general health and any previous dental history. For a thorough, safe dental cleaning in veterinary patients, anesthesia is essential, as this permits a comprehensive assessment of the tissues, allows dental radiographs to be made when indicated, keeps the pet immobile during the process, and eliminates pain or discomfort- followed by the cleaning (scaling and polishing procedure) itself above and below the gum-line. “Non-anesthetic or Anesthesia-free dental scaling” is not recommended by American Veterinary Dental Council (AVDC).

Depending on the overall health of the teeth, there may need to be tooth extractions for those where periodontal disease have severely damaged them.  This process is performed during the cleaning and we do our best to communicate this to our clients in advance of the dental cleaning procedure.  However, once we are actually able to get under the gum line we may, from time to time, discover the roots of a tooth is damaged to the point it should be removed.

Overall, dental cleaning for dogs and cats is a very important treatment that should be performed.  Your pet will feel better afterwards and the quality of life will be improved.

For over 45 years, Lange Animal Clinic has provided veterinary services in Pekin, IL and the surrounding areas for over three family generations. Our expert staff of Veterinarians, Veterinary Technicians, and Veterinary Assistants are trained to ensure the best quality medical care for your beloved pets-whether it be as a routine medical examination to more complicated surgical procedures. We are a small companion animal clinic providing services for dogs, cats, and exotic pets.

Dr. Colleen O’Rourke, owner and senior Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, takes great pride in making certain that every patient’s experience is handled with the utmost care, compassion, and economically in the best interests of our clients. Visit us at  

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