Great question! A “dental” is shorthand for a professional dental cleaning and related treatments. A veterinarian examines, cleans and polishes to remove plaque and bacteria, and develops a treatment plan based on the amount of periodontal disease. Dentals include full-mouth x-rays to see what is going on below the gum line. Dentals can include extracting teeth based on the extent of disease. Dentals require general anesthesia in order to be safe, effective, and comfortable for your pet.
Comprehensive professional dental cleanings are an essential component to the long term health of your pet’s teeth. It will depend on your pet and their unique needs, but even with routine preventative measures like daily teeth brushing, most cats and dogs require multiple dentals in their lifetime.
Pearly Bites prides itself on performing great dentals. As we like to say – we only do smiles.
Here’s how it works:
1. You have an initial visit with one of our Pearly Bites veterinarians. We do a full physical exam and oral exam. We will go over our recommendations to keep your pet’s mouth happy and healthy now and long term. We will go over a professional dental cleaning if recommended, and which package is recommended (mild/moderate/severe). We can also do the pre-anesthetic blood work at this visit.
2. We schedule your pet’s professional dental cleaning! This will typically be a few weeks out. We’ll work with you to find the right time.
3. We do a thorough pre-anesthetic work-up: We perform blood work on all our patients undergoing general anesthesia to help assess their anesthetic risk. This can also be done at your primary veterinarian. Some pets (older pets, pets with history of heart or lung issues, etc. ) may need chest x-rays prior to being cleared for anesthesia. We’ll recommend whatever is best for your pet’s health and safety.
4. On the day of the procedure:Drop off your pet the morning of the procedure.Your pet will be placed under general anesthesia with close and constant monitoring for their professional dental cleaning and treatments.We send you updates throughout the day via texts. We will call you with our full recommendations after the oral exam and dental x-rays.Pick up your pet later that day. We will go over their discharge instructions and any medications. We also go over long term care and maintenance of your pet’s oral health.
5. It’s time for a professional dental cleaning — so much more than just a cleaning!We first fully examine your pet’s teeth, gums and oral cavity to assess the extent of dental disease via probe and dental charting.We thoroughly clean (both above and below the gum line) and polish their teeth to remove plaque and tartar that contributes to ongoing dental disease.We take full-mouth x-rays to assess what’s going on below the gum line.Based on our dental exam and x-rays, we call you to discuss our findings and if any teeth need to be removed. We work hard to save your pet’s teeth but sometimes removing a tooth is best for your pet’s mouth and comfort.
6. Follow-up:We will give you a call the day after the procedure to check-in.If any extractions were performed, generally we recommend an in person recheck in 10-14 days to make sure everything has healed well. We’ll set you up with a free recheck exam or you can visit your primary care vet as well.
It can be hard to tell sometimes. Dogs and cats often try to hide their pain even when having chronic pain. That’s why annual dental exams by veterinarians are so important.
The signs to watch out for:
- Bad breathRed or inflamed gums
- Brown or yellow teeth (plaque accumulation)
- Crying out/vocalizing when they yawn or try to eat
- Abnormal chewing or difficulty chewing
- Sensitivity around the mouth
- Broken or loose teeth
- Swelling in or around the mouth or face
- Reduced appetite
Noticing any of these symptoms? Come in for a low-cost initial exam (deducted from the cost of a full dental if you decide to book one with us) or give us a call at 646-828-9270 for a free phone consultation. We’re here to help.
A professional dental cleaning requires general anesthesia. General anesthesia is generally safe but rare complications can occur. For most pets, the pain and discomfort of dental disease outweighs the anesthesia and surgery risk. While very safe, we cannot ever say there is 0 risk for anesthesia, which is why we take every precaution to minimize the risk for your pet. All pets have a full physical exam and oral exam on their first visit and the day of the procedure. Pre-anesthetic blood work is included in our dental prices and is required before the dental to help assess organ function and anesthetic risk. Depending on exam findings, history and age, your veterinarian may recommend chest x-rays before approving anesthesia. And there are some cases that are best handled by a board-certified veterinary dentist and/or a 24-hour specialty hospital. If that’s the case, we will let you know on that first initial visit.
Would you go to your primary care physician for a teeth cleaning? Yeah, neither would we.
Listen, we bet your vet is genuinely awesome and has a lot to offer, but they also have a ton on their plate. Are they able to solely dedicate themselves to your pet’s oral care? Is the practice they work at giving you full transparency and a fair shake when it comes to pricing? Do you feel like you can afford to have your pet receive the best possible care, including vital safety measures like blood work, dental x-rays, and precisely administered anesthesia?
If you are not so sure of those answers, we’re here to help you get the best possible dental care for your beloved pet. Come in for an initial consultation or simply reach out via phone or
We always provide the recommendations we’d want for our own pets.
No, and for a really good reason. We know it sounds great, but anesthesia-free dental cleanings are ineffective at treating dental disease. And worse, they can be traumatic, painful or even dangerous for your pet. They are primarily cosmetic and do little for the underlying cause of the dental disease that is often below the gum line. We could never responsibly offer anything less than safe, effective, and compassionate dental care.
Some of the reasons:
- An awake dog or cat doesn’t allow us to thoroughly examine and clean their teeth. Anesthesia allows us to take care of your pet’s teeth safely and without pain or stress.
- Teeth are like icebergs. There is a lot going on below the surface – which we can only see with dental x-rays. Unfortunately, dental x-rays cannot be done on an awake pet because they have to stay still in various precise ways.
- We need to scale and clean both above and below the gum line on all teeth. Below the gum line is especially important as that is often where the disease is most active. Awake pets just don’t let us do this safely and it can be uncomfortable.
- Your pet has to be held still for the duration of the procedure. This can be stressful and maybe even painful for many pets.
- Anesthesia free dentals are not cheap, and over the long run, your money is much better spent on a full professional dental cleaning.
For more information about anesthesia free dentals, you can visit the American Veterinary Dental College site on this: https://afd.avdc.org/
At Pearly Bites, nothing is more important to us than your pet’s health. Our team of veterinary experts take every best practice measure to ensure our recommended course of treatment is the right fit for your pet. That’s why we insist on comprehensive blood work and dental X-rays. For older animals or pets with particular health concerns, we may recommend additional precautionary measures, like a consult from a veterinary cardiologist, so we go into the dental procedure with full confidence. In the rare event we believe your pet’s dental or health needs require a level of care we cannot provide with full confidence, we’ll still make thoughtful recommendations and guide you through your best options, such as a board-certified veterinary dentist.
The individual insurance companies and their various plans determine if they cover dental procedures. Check with your insurance provider directly to see what is covered.
We never really know the full extent of the disease until we start the procedure. However, we will honor the original dental package price, no matter what we find.
We keep you informed every step of the way. If the unlikely event of your pet’s dental disease is drastically more extensive than anticipated because of a major issue hiding beyond the surface, we will give you a call and go over options. We’re here to help you, not nickel and dime you, every step of the way.
No, tooth extractions are included in your dental package. Your dental package (mild, moderate or severe) is determined by a veterinarian at your initial visit. Everything is included in that — anesthesia, the dental cleaning itself, dental X-rays, meds to go home, any extractions, and even the post-op check-up. The only potential additional fee is comprehensive pre-anesthetic bloodwork if the doctor feels it's warranted.