General Info for Dental Procedures

Arrowhead Animal Hospital, PC is pleased to be able to offer comprehensive basic dental care services for our patients. Dr.’s Pfretzschner, Cordell, Bolinger, Todack, and Houchens have all completed post-graduate dental training seminars with a board-certified veterinary dental specialist. We have the capability of performing comprehensive dental cleaning & polishing, digital dental radiography, bonded sealants for some fractured teeth, and extractions – both non-surgical and surgical, as necessary.

For additional information see the Veterinary Oral Health council website:

Frequently Asked Questions About Dentistry

How often does my pet need to have its teeth cleaned by the veterinarian?

It depends on the degree of plaque & tartar accumulation. Monthly, you need to examine your pet’s teeth. Look for an accumulation of yellow or brown material at the area where the tooth meets the gumline, especially over the cheek teeth and canines.

Once you notice plaque or tartar accumulation, it is time for a professional cleaning. Do not wait; waiting can lead to more severe dental disease, possibly resulting in the need for more extensive dental work.

Bacteria attach to the tartar, causing irritation of the gum tissues (aka gingivitis). When treated, the inflammation will resolve. When gingivitis is left untreated, it will progress to infection, bone loss, and eventually tooth loss; this process is known as periodontitis, which is incurable.

The intervals between teeth cleaning procedures will depend on how often you can brush your pet’s teeth. Once or twice daily is optimal. If you cannot brush the teeth, your pet may need dental clean

Can I just take my fingernail or a dental scaler to remove the calculus?

Dental disease occurs below the gum line. By removing calculus from the tooth, you are not removing disease below the gum line. In order to thoroughly help your pet, plaque & calculus must be removed from below the gum line.

Do you have to use anesthesia to clean my pet’s teeth?

Anesthesia is necessary when performing dental cleaning. It provides three important functions: immobilization in order to clean below the gum line and perform dental procedures (radiographs, extractions, etc.) as needed, pain control, and the ability to place a tube into the windpipe so bacterial products do not enter the respiratory system.

We take every precaution to ensure safe anesthesia. We use the safest of anesthetic agents, and dogs & cats are given pre-operative tests depending on their age and condition to qualify them for anesthesia. Finally, pets are monitored while anesthetized with EKG cardiac monitors, non-invasive blood pressure units, temperature monitors, respiration monitors, and pulse oximeters. It is important to remember, however, that anesthesia has its risks in even the most healthy patient, though the risk may be minimal.

What is involved in the teeth cleaning at your hospital?

1. General exam before anesthesia, +/- pre-anesthetic blood testing
2. Intravenous catheter & fluids
3. Oral exam under anesthesia
4. Subgingival (below the gumline) scaling, root planning, curettage where indicated
5. Tooth polishing
6. Irrigation
7. Fluoride application
8. Post-cleaning exam and radiographs if needed
9. Dental charting for the medical record
10. Therapy (extractions, bonded sealant) if necessary
11. Home care instructions
12. No-fee follow-up appointment to monitor healing after extractions if necessary

How much does a dental cleaning procedure cost?

A basic dental cleaning procedure at our hospital varies depending on the size of your pet. The basic procedure includes anesthesia & cleaning of the teeth. It does not include pre-anesthetic blood testing, pain medication, dental radiographs, extractions, bonded sealants, or antibiotics. Oftentimes, dental disease can be insidious and much worse than it may appear on the surface.

Therefore, it is impossible to accurately estimate what each individual pet may require until it is anesthetized and a thorough cleaning and exam has been performed. At that time, we will contact you to discuss what further treatment (if any) may be necessary, and estimate costs for you at that time.

Please make an appointment to discuss costs with one of our veterinarians if you have further questions.