Since our pets cannot express dental pain, we are responsible for ensuring their oral health is top-notch. Precisely what happens during these dental check-ups? There’s a lot more involved than you might think.

What Is a Pet Dental Check-Up?

A pet dental check-up is a veterinary examination specifically focused on assessing pets’ oral health, such as dogs and cats. Dental check-ups are essential to maintain good dental hygiene and prevent or address dental problems affecting a pet’s overall well-being. Like humans, pets can suffer from dental issues such as plaque buildup, tartar, gingivitis, periodontal disease, and tooth decay.

Benefits of a Pet Dental Check-Up 

The benefits of a pet dental check-up include:

  • Early Detection of Dental Issues: Regular dental check-ups help identify dental problems early, such as plaque buildup, gingivitis, or tooth decay, allowing for prompt treatment and prevention of further complications.
  • Prevention of Dental Disease: Professional teeth cleaning during check-ups removes plaque and tartar, reducing the risk of periodontal disease and maintaining healthy gums and teeth.
  • Relief from Dental Pain: Dental problems can cause pain and discomfort for pets. Dental check-ups and treatments alleviate pain and improve the pet’s overall well-being.
  • Improved Oral Hygiene: Dental check-ups are essential to maintaining good oral hygiene for pets, contributing to their overall health and longevity.
  • Prevention of Systemic Diseases: Dental diseases in pets can lead to systemic health issues, such as heart, kidney, and liver problems. Regular dental care helps prevent such secondary health complications.
  • Better Breath: Dental check-ups and cleanings help reduce bad breath (halitosis), making interactions with your pet more pleasant.
  • Longer Lifespan: By addressing dental issues early and maintaining good oral health, pets can enjoy a longer, healthier life.
  • Tailored Dental Care Plan: During check-ups, veterinarians can provide personalized guidance on dental home care routines, including brushing techniques and suitable dental products for your pet.
  • Prevention of Tooth Loss: Early detection and treatment of dental problems can help prevent tooth loss, ensuring your pet’s ability to eat comfortably and chew properly.
  • Improved Quality of Life: Regular dental check-ups contribute to your pet’s overall comfort and happiness, enhancing their quality of life and the bond between you and your furry companion.

A Typical Pet Dental Check-Up

1. Initial Examination and Record Assessment

  • The veterinarian or veterinary staff will review the pet’s medical history, including any previous dental issues or treatments.
  • They will inquire about the pet’s current medications, as certain medications can affect dental health.
  • The pet’s regular diet and eating habits will be discussed, as diet can affect dental health and plaque formation.
  • The veterinary staff will palpate the pet’s jaws, face, and head, feeling for any abnormalities, swellings, or signs of pain.

2. Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment

  • The veterinarian will thoroughly examine the pet’s mouth, including the lips, gums, teeth, tongue, and mucous membranes.
  • They will look for signs of dental disease, such as red or inflamed gums, tartar buildup, and loose or broken teeth.
  • Assessment for oral masses, growths, or abnormalities that may require further investigation or biopsy.
  • Dental X-rays (dental radiographs) are taken to assess the health of the teeth below the gum line, check for root abnormalities, and evaluate the jawbone and tooth roots.

3. Professional Teeth Cleaning and Polishing

  • Using dental instruments, the veterinary staff will carefully remove plaque and tartar from the pet’s teeth, including both the visible surfaces and under the gumline (subgingival cleaning).
  • Scaling helps eliminate the buildup of bacteria and calculus that can lead to gum disease and dental decay.
  • After scaling, the teeth are polished to create a smooth surface, making it more difficult for plaque to adhere to the enamel.
  • Polishing also helps improve teeth’ appearance and reduce surface irregularities that can trap bacteria.
  • Additional intervention, such as dental surgery, may be required in cases of severe dental disease. Services such as extractions, often performed by a dog dental specialist, may be necessary to prevent further pain or infection. The specific procedures required and associated costs will depend on the extent of the dental disease.

4. Dental Home Care Guidance

  • The veterinarian or veterinary staff will provide personalized guidance on maintaining the pet’s oral health at home.
  • They may recommend specific dental hygiene products suitable for the pet, such as toothbrushes and toothpaste designed for pets.
  • Instructions on the proper technique for brushing the pet’s teeth will be demonstrated to the pet owner.
  • Recommendations for teeth-friendly foods, dental treats, or toys that can help reduce plaque and tartar buildup.

5. Dental Check-up Follow-Ups

  • The veterinarian will recommend an appropriate schedule for follow-up dental check-ups based on the pet’s age, breed, and dental condition.
  • Regular check-ups are essential to monitor the pet’s dental health and detect any new issues early on.
  • Depending on the pet’s dental health status, follow-up appointments may be recommended every six months or annually.

6. Additional Treatments or Procedures

  • If the veterinarian identifies dental issues during the examination, they may recommend additional treatments or procedures.
  • For severe dental disease, tooth extractions may be necessary to alleviate pain and prevent further spread of infection.
  • In some cases, pets may need surgical intervention to maintain optimal health. Whether it’s a dental procedure or a more serious surgery, pet owners often worry about the cost of pet surgery. While prices vary, it’s important to remember that the investment is toward your pet’s long-term health and happiness.
  • Antibiotics or pain medication may be prescribed to address dental infections or manage post-operative discomfort.

Regular dental care is essential for maintaining your pet’s overall health and preventing dental problems. Pet dental health is just one aspect of comprehensive pet care. An overview of your pet’s overall health includes nutrition, behavior, and internal medicine. Affordable veterinary internal medicine solutions encompass various treatment and preventative care options to keep your pet healthy inside and out.


Pet dental check-ups are not as simple as they sound. They involve initial examinations, detailed oral assessments, and professional cleanings, with further support and guidance for home care. More severe conditions may warrant specialized intervention, encompassing areas from pet dental care to veterinary surgery and internal medicine. Ultimately, these thorough check-ups ensure your beloved furry friend stays as healthy as possible. Regular dental check-ups are integral to responsible pet ownership, so don’t skimp on this crucial aspect of pet care.