How Often Should I Schedule Dental Cleanings for My Pet?

As responsible pet owners, we strive to provide the best possible care for our furry companions. An essential aspect of pet care that often gets overlooked is dental health. Like humans, pets can suffer from dental issues that impact their overall well-being. In this article, we will explore the importance of dental cleanings for pets and answer the crucial question: how often should you schedule dental cleanings for your beloved pet?

About Pet Dentistry

Pet dentistry is a specialized field of veterinary medicine focused on animals’ oral health. It encompasses a range of services and treatments designed to prevent, diagnose, and treat dental issues in pets. Proper dental care is crucial for pets, as it affects their oral health and significantly impacts their overall health and quality of life.

What Are Dental Cleanings for Pets?

Dental cleanings for pets, also known as dental prophylaxis or dental scaling and polishing, are veterinary procedures that involve cleaning and maintaining your pet’s teeth and gums. Veterinarians or veterinary technicians typically perform cat and dog teeth cleaning, akin to the dental cleanings we humans receive from our dentists.

Dental cleaning for pets includes:

  • Oral Examination: The veterinarian examines your pet’s mouth and teeth to assess their oral health and identify any issues.
  • Scaling: Using specialized tools, the veterinary team removes tartar and plaque buildup from your pet’s teeth. This step is essential for preventing gum disease and tooth decay.
  • Polishing: After scaling, the teeth are polished to create a smooth surface that helps inhibit the accumulation of plaque and tartar.
  • Fluoride Application: In some cases, fluoride may be applied to strengthen your pet’s teeth and reduce the risk of dental issues.
  • Oral X-rays: In more advanced cases or when dental issues are suspected, oral X-rays may be taken to assess the condition of the teeth and roots beneath the gum line.

How Often Should You Schedule Pet Dental Cleanings?

The frequency of pet dental cleanings depends on various factors, including your pet’s age, breed, and overall dental health. Here are some general guidelines to help you determine how often you should schedule dental cleanings for your pet:

1. Annual Dental Check-ups

Just like humans, pets benefit from annual dental check-ups. During these check-ups, your veterinarian will evaluate your pet’s oral health and recommend whether a dental cleaning is necessary. These annual assessments are essential for early detection and timely intervention to prevent dental problems from worsening.

2. Breed and Age Considerations

Breed and age can influence the frequency of dental cleanings for your pet.

  • Breed: Some dog breeds are more predisposed to dental issues due to their anatomy. Small dog breeds, such as Chihuahuas and Yorkshire Terriers, are often more susceptible to dental problems like tooth crowding and dental disease. For these breeds, more frequent dental cleanings may be necessary.
  • Age: Age-related dental issues can affect senior pets. Older pets may experience tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health problems, making them candidates for more frequent dental cleanings. Your veterinarian will assess your pet’s dental needs as they age and adjust the cleaning schedule accordingly.

3. Dental Health History

If your pet has a history of dental problems or has previously undergone dental procedures, they may require more frequent dental cleanings to maintain their oral health. Pets with a history of dental disease are at a higher risk of recurrence, and proactive dental care becomes crucial.

4. Home Dental Care

A regular dental care routine at home can contribute significantly to your pet’s oral health and extend the time between professional cleanings. Here are some home dental care practices to consider:

  • Brushing: Regularly brushing your pet’s teeth is one of the most effective ways to maintain oral health. Use a pet-specific toothbrush and toothpaste, and establish a brushing routine from a young age.
  • Dental Chews and Toys: Provide dental chews and toys that promote oral health. These can help reduce plaque and tartar buildup.
  • Water Additives: Some water additives are formulated to reduce plaque and tartar while freshening your pet’s breath. Consult your veterinarian for recommendations.

Incorporating these home dental care practices into your pet’s routine can help keep their teeth and gums healthier between professional cleanings.

5. Veterinary Recommendations

Ultimately, your veterinarian’s recommendations should guide the frequency of dental cleanings. Veterinarians are trained to assess your pet’s needs, considering their breed, age, dental health history, and any signs of dental problems. If your veterinarian recommends more frequent cleanings, following their advice is essential to properly manage your pet’s oral health.

The Value of Dental Cleanings for Pets

Regular dental cleanings for pets offer several significant benefits:

  • Prevention of Dental Disease: Dental cleanings help prevent common dental issues such as periodontal disease, tooth decay, and gum disease.
  • Pain Relief: Dental problems can be painful for pets. Cleanings alleviate discomfort and improve their quality of life.
  • Improved Overall Health: Oral health is closely connected to overall health. Dental issues can impact vital organs and lead to systemic health problems. Preventing dental disease contributes to your pet’s long-term well-being.
  • Extended Lifespan: Good oral health can lead to a longer and healthier life for your pet. Dental problems can be debilitating and may reduce their lifespan. Preventive care ensures they can enjoy their golden years to the fullest.

Other Vet Services

Pet Wellness Plans

In addition to dental cleanings, consider other veterinary services to ensure your pet’s comprehensive health and well-being. Pet wellness plans at trusted pet facilities like Hillcrest Animal Hospital, for example, offer various preventive care services, including vaccinations, regular check-ups, and discounts on various treatments. These plans are designed to help pet owners manage the cost of pet care while providing essential services for their pets.

Pet Dermatology

Pet dermatology is another crucial aspect of veterinary care, focusing on diagnosing and treating pet skin conditions and allergies. A dog or cat dermatologist can help address itching, redness, and skin problems caused by allergies or other underlying issues.


The frequency of dental cleanings for your pet should be based on their specific needs and your veterinarian’s recommendations. Regular dental cleanings are vital to pet care, as they prevent dental disease, alleviate pain, and contribute to your pet’s overall health and longevity. In addition to dental cleanings, consider pet wellness plans and dermatology services to provide comprehensive care for your furry companion. By prioritizing your pet’s dental health and overall well-being, you can ensure they lead a happy and healthy life by your side.