Norwich Regional Animal Hospital

13 Fogg Farm Road
White River Junction, VT 05001


Professional Dental Procedures

Over 75% of dogs and cats have dental disease by the time they are 3 years old.  Because of this, we perform a yearly COHAT (comprehensive oral health assessment and treatment) on many dogs and cats over 3 years of age- sooner if problems are found on the physical exam. Our COHAT includes general anesthesia, comprehensive oral exam, full mouth dental x-rays, scaling and polishing. We perform surgical extractions as indicated. Comprehensive pain management and the safest anesthetic protocols available are included with every COHAT.

The professional dental cleaning is a recommendation for pets with existing tartar or mild to severe periodontal disease. On average, a professional dentistry is recommended once yearly to prevent your pet from having to experience significant dental disease and tooth loss.  Recommendation varies with individual.  Both lifestyle, breed, diet and genetics largely influence the presence of dental disease. 

During a professional dental cleaning or at a pre-dental exam, the doctor will examine your pet's mouth for chips, fractures or surface defects. These types of injuries can often lead to root exposure or sensitivity causing pain.

A professional dental cleaning requires your pet be under anesthesia.  This is to prevent any debris or bacteria removed from the surface of the teeth from traveling to the lungs.   The first step is to remove the tartar from the surface of the teeth using an ultrasonic scaler. This scaler uses high frequency vibrations to pulse through the layers of tartar and plaque on each tooth. The scaler can also clean the area just under the gums removing debris, not obvious to the eye. This debris is washed away with a spray of water.   After scaling, the teeth are polished with a fine grit prophy paste to remove grooves or defects in the surface of the teeth.

During the professional dental,  a periodontal probe is used to measure gum pockets around each tooth. These pockets are signs of disease or decreased ligament attachments to the roots. Often these pockets can signify possible extractions.

Dental radiographs (x-rays) are utilized to assess the extent of disease.  These images allow thorough evaluation of the inside of the tooth as well as the root structures below the gum line.  Specifically, they can help to determine the degree of root decay or bone loss.  During the procedure, our staff may email images of your pet's mouth to share medical information with you as we obtain it.  Dental radiographs play a large part in determining the nature and extent of medical care that is provided during the anesthetic procedure. 

All of these tools enable your pet's doctor and medical care team to provide optimal dental health care. 

If you have questions, would like more information, or need an appointment, please call Norwich Regional Animal Hospital at 802.296.CARE (2273)


Summary of steps in Dental Procedure

Step 1

  • Gross (visible) tartar is removed with instruments.

Step 2

  • More delicate tartar deposits are removed from the gum line with different instruments.

Step 3

  • Periodontal sockets are probed and measured to assess periodontal disease.

Step 4

  • The enamel is polished to remove any unevenness left by tartar removal.

Step 5

  • Dental x-rays are taken to evaluate questionable teeth or root structure.

Step 6

  • Extractions are done if necessary based on a veterinarian's evaluation of x-rays and physical oral exam. Gingiva is sutured closed to prevent infection.

Step 7

  • The mouth is disinfected and possibly treated with a fluoride sealer or plaque repellent.

Step 8

  • Professional notes are taken on a dental chart, noting abnormalities on each of the dog's 42 teeth, or the cat's 30 teeth.



Information obtained from Dental Home Care, Wendy C. Brooks, DVM,