goatheaven avatar image

Teeth cleaning

Does anyone recommend a teeth cleaning for a 9 year old bulldog? There is quite a bit of tartar but no absess or anything. She does lick a lot but that is due to allergies. I am not sure she would make it through being put under. She did not do well when she was spayed at age 2. Any advice please

We have had teeth cleaning done with all of our dogs

It's difficult to know if there are any problems with just a visual inspection. Built up tartar can hide problems like decay. Unfortunately, they do have to be put under anesthesia. If you choose to have it done, be sure the vet does pre-op bloodwork.

Good luck


Lynn King CPDT-KA

Deb and MacKenzie and Ester's picture

Depends on what

problems she has at 2 when she was spayed. Was it trouble with the anesthesia? If so was it the cocktail they gave her. Something to definitely discuss with you vet, and dig out those records to see exactly what they gave her.

My vet uses Propofol as an induction then isoflurane. Cleo had a bad reaction to that cocktail once, if she ever needs surgery again then that needs to be noted probably changed.

MacKenzie (10 next month) just had a dental done, because he had a broken tooth, that ended up being 3 extractions and a cleaning. He just had a cleaning and growths removed a year ago. He came through fine...but I was worried about him the first evening. He was very out of it. More so then ever before.

The problem is the decay can actually cause infection internally and damage the organs.

It's an age that you really have to weight the pros and cons. If you have a high level of comfort with your vet and her issues during the spay didn't have anything to do with anesthesia then I would definitely consider it for the long term benefit for her overall health and longevity.

Pre blood work (senior panel) most definitely should be done first.

carmiesmommy's picture

Non-Anesthesia Teeth Cleaning

I have NEVER put my bully under for routine teeth cleaning. This is dangerous! I don't know where you live but try doing a search in your city for people that do teeth cleaning without anesthesia. There are out there!  Sometimes groomers or pet stores can recommend someone.

Deb and MacKenzie and Ester's picture

A good article to read re: anesthesia-free dentistry

Nonprofessional dental scaling (NPDS), also known as anesthesia-free dentistry, is gaining popularity with an increasing number of dog and cat owners.

These are well-meaning pet guardians who may be fearful of anesthesia or may not be able to afford professional veterinary dental care.

They want to provide some form of oral care for their pets, so they opt for NPDS.

However, anesthesia-free dentistry is essentially a cosmetic procedure that addresses only the parts of your pet's teeth you can see.

The question many pet healthcare professionals are asking is whether NPDS procedures are doing more harm than good.

One of the biggest concerns many veterinarians have with just scraping teeth is that the mouth is full of blood vessels, which can launch oral bacteria into the bloodstream.

Once the bacteria is in the bloodstream it can infect other organs like the valves of the heart, resulting in a disease known as vegetative valvular endocarditis.

Read the American Veterinary Dental College's (AVDC) position statement on dental scaling without anesthesia.

Why Anesthesia is Used for Dental Procedures
The fact is, a truly thorough oral exam and cleaning can't be accomplished on a pet who is awake.

Anesthesia has several benefits when it comes to caring for your pet's mouth, including:

•Immobilizing your dog or cat to insure his safety and cooperation during a procedure he doesn't understand and is stressed about.
•Allows for a thorough exam of all the surfaces inside the mouth and the taking of x-rays.
•Allows for scaling below the gum line where periodontal disease is most active.
•Pain management.
A dog or cat who isn't sedated simply won't tolerate a thorough inspection of his mouth. He'll move around a lot, making the use of sharp instruments extra dangerous.

Cleaning below the gum line of a fully alert animal is something that should never be attempted. Pets won't stand for it because not only does the procedure cause tremendous stress, it's also extremely painful.

And if tooth extractions are necessary, they are out of the question for un-anesthetized pets.

How Anesthesia-Free Dental Procedures Might Do More Harm than Good
Non-professional dental scaling can potentially give pet owners a false sense of security about the state of their dog's or cat's oral health.

Even though your pet's teeth – what you can see of them – may look clean and fresh after an anesthesia-free dental procedure, what you can't see is actually more important. Problems like tartar buildup below the gum line and gingivitis aren't addressed during a procedure that only scrapes and polishes the teeth. Most oral disease happens below the visible surfaces of your dog's or cat's mouth.

NPDS is an aesthetic procedure that doesn't deal with gum problems or other risks to your pet's overall health that can develop from disease that starts in the mouth. It doesn't allow for probing of the gums to look for the presence of deepening periodontal pockets or bone destruction resulting from gum disease.

The majority of older dogs that have undergone anesthesia-free dental procedures for years wind up with significant dental disease requiring multiple extractions as they age.

With all that said, there are certainly situations in which I remove plaque and tartar from a pet's teeth without using anesthesia. Each pet and situation is different. I don't do it in lieu of a thorough dental exam, and I don't do it on pets for which I have no dental history. But if, for example, I have a pet with a large chunk of tartar that is irritating his mouth, I'll remove that tartar without anesthesia if I can do it easily and without stressing out the patient.

When Putting Your Pet 'Under' is a Concern
The prospect of making a beloved pet unconscious with anesthesia is a distressing worry for many people. If you are among them, Dr. Brett Beckman, writing for dvm360, offers this advice:

Veterinary practices that routinely perform dental radiography and probing on all dental patients practice at an advanced level of care. They're also likely to be well-equipped to safely monitor patients and handle any problems they encounter.

Administration of premedications and nerve blocks enables patients to be kept at anesthetic depths consistent with that of a light general anesthesia. This keeps patients close to waking, even when extractions or other invasive procedures are needed, thus maximizing cardiac output and tissue perfusion and maintaining blood pressure.

For more information on the safe use of anesthesia in pets, read my recent article What You Must Know Before Your Pet Goes "Under."

Deb and MacKenzie and Ester's picture

Routine vs Required

Teeth scaling by itself is simply cosmetic and does nothing for good oral care and gum disease. It is impossible to get xrays and remove tarter under the gum line where gum disease begins by a pet shop employee trying to scale a dogs tooth. In fact in some states it is illegal for a non-vet clinic to do dental cleanings. Ultra sonic equipment and sharp scaling tools can't be used on a dog that can move and jerk.

So if the dog is in need of a dental procedure as recommended by your vet, with concerns of dental disease, gum disease and or cracked/chipped/broken teeth then for the long term health of the dog dental cleaning most definitely needs to be considered. If the dog is a high risk dog via anesthesia, then like I said in my previous post you have to weight the pros and cons.

You didn't say why she didn't do well 7 yrs ago when she was spayed.

I do not do annual routine cleanings on my dogs, but if they have dental problems then it has to be taken care of for the reasons I have mentioned in my other post. Each dog is individual and requires decisions by informed owners as to their options and the possible results. Consult with you vet if you haven't already, but I'm assuming your vet has recommened a dental cleaning.

At 9 if the only problem is tarter build-up per you vets visual diagnosis then I would probably be hesitant to do a cleaning.

goatheaven's picture

Thanks- Decision made

The cleaning is only for tartar buildup; however I was just concerned about it becoming a problem later. She stopped breathing after her spay surgery during recovery as she was trying to wake up. Luckily a vet tech was with her and brought her back with mouth to snout breathing. She choked trying to wake up and got strangled and stopped breathing. I have decided that we will only clean her teeth if she develops a tooth problem or some sort of mouth irritation that will warrant being put under. Thanks for the advice.