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Oral Hygiene: It’s More Important Than You Yhink!

Oral hygiene plays a very important role in the overall health of your dog, cat or other pet and Hemlock Bluffs Animal Hospital of Holly Springs makes it a high priority.

The buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth can contribute not only to oral pain and bad breath, but can also affect internal organ function. The bacteria that resides in the mouth is a readily available source of infection for the rest of the body. Liver, kidney and heart function can suffer from unattended oral disease. Oral disease is present in 90% of patients over the age of 3 years. At HBAH, we are very proactive in treating oral disease and preventing long term ill side effects from lack of oral care. Proper oral care in animals is much the same as dental care in humans. Six month oral exams, routine dental cleanings and home care are all very important in prevention of disease.

At Hemlock Bluffs Animal Hospital, we have a very precise process for attending to your pet’s oral care.

How Dental Cleanings Work

Should our veterinarian determine a dental prophylaxis (cleaning) is needed, your pet will be scheduled for a day visit for the cleaning. Your pet will be dropped off for the day, typically between 7:30–8:00 am and will go home between 3:00 and 5:00 pm. The day of the procedure, your pet will be evaluated for anesthetic safety. Pre-anesthetic blood work is performed, medications are individually calculated and administered and an IV catheter is placed. Warm IV fluids are administered before, during and after the procedure. IV fluids greatly improve the safety of anesthesia, helping to maintain blood pressure, kidney function, and hydration. Pets’ recovery time after anesthesia is also much more rapid when fluids are administered. In addition, if there were a problem, the direct IV line allows for rapid venous access and treatment. After the IV sedative is given, your pet is asleep. We then place a breathing tube into the trachea (windpipe) and your pet is started on gas and oxygen to maintain the anesthesia. Your pet is wrapped in a warm water recirculating pad to maintain appropriate body temperature and keep them warm and cozy during the procedure. Monitoring equipment is placed to record the heart rate, respiratory rate, body temperature, oxygenation and blood pressure. In addition to the equipment, a trained veterinary anesthesia nurse is assigned to your pet to monitor their parameters constantly. This double check system ensures we are constantly aware to the status of your pet during the cleaning. Anesthetic monitoring is constant during the procedure.

After the teeth are thoroughly cleaned using an ultrasonic dental scaler, they are rinsed, polished, and treated with fluoride. We examine each tooth for pockets or defects and note any abnormalities in the computerized dental chart. Any recommended treatment is explained to the owner, along with the costs for that treatment. In most cases, any required treatment can be performed at the same time as the cleaning.


All patients are closely monitored as they wake up, with most patients standing up within a few minutes of completing the procedure. Pain management includes medications before, during, and after the procedure, as well as local nerve blocks as indicated. They are fed a palatable meal once they are up and around and usually are walking normally within 2–3 hours.

At discharge, all instructions are written out and fully explained. Several digital pictures of your pet’s procedure are taken and printed out for your reference. Most patients are scheduled for a re-check exam as appropriate. We also take the time to demonstrate your home care options on your own pet. At any time before or after your pet’s care you are welcome to call with any questions you might have.

Finally, we will advise you of when your pet should be checked again, and of any required follow-up. We will then call to remind you when any further care might be required.

One of our patients with some experience in proper pet dental hygiene has “written a story” that covers the daily teeth cleaning process. You can read Cuca’s story here.



The whole experience was wonderful. Getting an appointment scheduled was easy, we were greeted and signed in with no hassles. A tech took our info and Molly was taken in for her procedure. When it was finished, the doctor called and talked to me and we arranged a time for pickup. When I arrived, I met with the doctor and was given review of her procedure and advise for her care for the next 24 hours. We checked out and drove home. Could not have been easier. The staff is wonderful - both caring and efficient.

Barbara Roche

I was very pleased with my first visit. Everyone was very professional and knowledgeable. Both the technicians and the Dr. took their time to get a full history. I really felt like they cared for my dog's health. I have been to other vets where I felt like I was being rushed so they could get to the next patient. This was definitely not the case. I would absolutely recommend Hemlock to anyone looking for a vet.

Jason Black

I love seeing a familiar face as soon as I open the door. I'd follow Justine and Jenny anywhere! Dr. Snyder solved Shelby's problems in a matter of minutes and I've been chasing answers for years. She's phenomenal! Melissa's knowledge and guidance has been beyond my expectations, and getting to know all of the Staff has kept a permanent smile on my face. I feel as if I've been on a long journey eager to establish roots. I'M HOME!

Nancy & Kevin Ziese

From the moment we discussed Sadie's surgery, to the follow-up the day prior, to the calls day of to go over options and 1:1 time with Dr D when we picked her up - it was all wonderful. Everyone seemed to truly care about her and also made sure we were comfortable. The surgery went better than expected and she's doing so well. We could not have imagined going anywhere else for her care.

Erica & Michael Ring

Greatest Pet Place on Earth!!! We have been clients at Hemlock Bluffs Animal Hospital for 5+ years and know the owners and staff quite well! Our pets are always treated with great love and attention, and we feel when we board our pets, they are receiving extraordinary care and staying at a home away from home! We love our vet and staff and highly recommend HBAH!!!

Pam & Chuck Pribble
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