Tartar, or calculus, buildup cannot be removed adequately without a thorough cleaning under anesthesia. Look at your pet's teeth and see if there is a tan rough appearance. If they are not white they should be examined by a veterinarian. On occasion, there may be problems with the gums while the teeth still look good, so a dental examination is a good idea. Tartar extends below the gum line so cleaning is an invasive surgical procedure done under general anesthesia.
We remove this tartar buildup with ultrasonic equipment which leaves microscopic scratches on which new tartar may be deposited, so scaling of the tartar is followed by polishing and sealing. If there is a severe infection of the teeth and mouth, bacteria may be released into the bloodstream at the time of cleaning. This has the potential to lead to heart disease so antibiotics may be indicated both before and after the procedure.
Since a dental prophylaxis is invasive and may be painful, general anesthesia is required to properly clean teeth. We routinely perform a pre-surgical blood panel. This helps to make sure we don't overlook a pre-existing condition, and it gives us a baseline profile to keep in the patient's records for future reference. Anesthesia is preceded with tranquilization to alleviate apprehension. A very safe gas anesthetic agent, which is the same as is used in the majority of human pediatric cases, is given to effect and the patient is carefully monitored with ECG and other monitors.
Daily brushing is preferred, however, this is not always practical. One should make an attempt to brush the animal's teeth at least once or twice a week. This is made easier if started very early in life. There are also drinking water additives to help fight plaque and freshen the breath.
When an oral issue is extremely complicated, we may refer you to a veterinary dental specialist, who is capable of doing amazing things.