Frequently Asked Dental Questions

1. Why are regular dental cleanings important for my pet?
Untreated plaque and tartar can contribute to bad breath, gingivitis, periodontal disease, and tooth loss. Chronic bacterial infection in the mouth destroys the gum, tooth and bone. Bacteria can spread throughout the entire body via the bloodstream and may damage the kidneys, liver and heart. Dental cleanings will greatly help in preventing/reducing dental disease.

2. What services are included in a dental cleaning?
There are many components to a dental cleaning which vary depending on the procedures your pet needs. Since anesthesia is required to perform dental cleaning for animals, many of the services are related to anesthesia and safety measures. All animals that will be undergoing a dental procedure will have pre-operative bloodwork and an evaluation by a veterinarian. They will also have pain management prior to, during, and after the procedure, intravenous catheter and fluids, anesthesia and anesthesia monitoring, and ultrasonic tooth scaling/polishing treatment. Depending on the condition of your pet’s teeth, they may also need dental x-rays, extractions of hopelessly diseased teeth, pain medication for use at home, or oral antibiotics.

3. My groomer cleans my pet’s teeth without anesthesia, why don’t you?
As an AAHA Hospital, we follow over 900 standards of care including the cleaning of a companion animal’s teeth under general anesthesia.  Access to the subgingival area of every tooth is impossible in an unanesthetized canine or feline patient.  Even slight head movement by the patient could result in injury to the oral tissues of the patient, and the operator may be bitten when the patient reacts. Though the surface of the teeth may appear to be clean and healthy, what you don’t see is under the gumline where the bacteria that causes periodontal disease occurs and causes bad breath and extensive damage to tooth roots and supporting bone structure. A complete oral examination, which is an important part of a professional dental scaling procedure, is not possible in an unanesthetized patient.

4. Why does it cost more for my pet to have their teeth cleaned than mine?
The main difference is that pets require general anesthesia for dental cleanings and humans do not. Prior to the anesthesia, blood is tested to ensure their safety while under anesthesia. During the procedure, they are monitored closely (pulse, heart rate, blood oxygen levels, blood pressure, body temperature) and are kept well hydrated with intravenous fluids.

5. Who does the dental cleanings? What does the doctor do?
Similar to your dental cleaning experience, a licensed veterinary technician performs the procedures under the direct supervision of your veterinarian. The doctors examine and make all decisions and recommended treatments for any dental or gum disease discovered at the time of the cleaning.

6. What if I feed my pet another diet with tartar control in it?
The diet you feed your pet may have a tarter control component and may help in some way with dental care. Our doctors compared many dental diets and studies showed that Hills T/D® is the most effective.

7. Will my pet be in pain?
We make every effort to make the dental cleaning experience safe with minimal pain. Prior to the dental, we give your pet pain medication. During the dental, more pain medication may be administered. Nerve blocks are often used to decrease pain at tooth extraction sites. After the dental cleaning we give more pain and anti-inflammatory medication. We may also send home pain medication if more extensive dental work was performed and pain may be anticipated once your pet is home.

8. Why do they have to stay all day?
Dental cleanings for your pet requires anesthesia and pets need to be under a veterinarians care while they are waking up from anesthesia. We will communicate with you throughout the day to advise you of progress and a good time to pick up your pet.

9. How often will my pet need a dental cleaning?
There are several factors that contribute to the recommendation the doctor will make regarding the frequency of dental cleanings for your pet.

  1. Poor Oral Hygiene – Your pet needs dental care, just like you. This includes routine veterinary dental checkups and home care.
  2. Breed – Overcrowded or misaligned teeth can contribute to tarter accumulation which will contribute to gingivitis and periodontal disease. These are more often a problem for smaller breed dogs. Certain cat breeds are also more likely to develop periodontal disease.
  3. Age – Periodontal disease is more common as pets get older.

10. What is Oravet?
A wax-like polymer, adheres to the tooth’s surface and reportedly produces an invisible barrier that reduces plaque and tartar accumulations by preventing bacteria from adhering to the tooth surface. Applied weekly, it is designed to withstand regular brushing, dental diets, and chew toys.


Phone: 206.285.7387

Location Hours
Monday7:00am – 6:00pm
Tuesday7:00am – 6:00pm
Wednesday7:00am – 6:00pm
Thursday7:00am – 6:00pm
Friday7:00am – 6:00pm
Saturday8:00am – 3:00pm

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