Dental Care Guidelines

American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats

girl and pugDental care guidelines were developed by Board Certified veterinary dentists as members of the AAHA Dental Care Guidelines Task Force to ensure a higher standard of dental care for veterinarians. At Dallas Veterinary Dentistry & Oral Surgery we use the guidelines as a minimum only: in most cases we far exceed this standard of care due to our advanced training and technology.

Essential Steps for Dental Cleaning

The essential steps for a dental cleaning and treatment of periodontal disease are as follows:

  1. Perform an oral evaluation.
  2. Radiograph the entire mouth using intraoral or digital radiographic systems.  Take oral survey films at the initial examination and periodically thereafter.  Take specific or localized radiographs when oral pathology is discovered.  Radiographs are necessary for accurate evaluation and diagnosis.  In one published report, intraoral radiographs revealed clinically important pathology in 27.8% of dogs and 41.7% of cats when no abnormal findings were noted on the initial examination.  In patients with abnormal findings, radiography revealed additional pathology in 50% of dogs and 53.9% of cats.
  3. Scale the teeth using a hand scaler or powered device.
  4. Polish the teeth using a low-speed hand piece with prophy paste that is measured and loaded on a prophy cup for each patient, to avoid cross contamination.
  5. Perform subgingival irrigation to remove debris and polishing paste and to inspect the crown and subgingival areas.

Additional Steps for Periodontal Disease and Other Conditions

  1. Evaluate for abnormal periodontal pocket depths using a periodontal probe.  The depth that is considered abnormal varies among teeth and with the size of the dog or cat.
  2. Perform periodontal therapy as determined by radiographs and probing.
  3. Administer perioperative antibiotics when indicated, either parenterally or locally.
  4. Perform periodontal surgery to remove deep debris, eliminate pockets, and/or extract teeth.
  5. Biopsy all abnormal masses (visualized grossly or on radiographs) and submit samples for histopathology.
  6. Take postoperative radiographs to evaluate the treatment applied.
  7. Recommend to the client that the pet be referred to a specialist when the practitioner does not have the skills, knowledge, equipment, or facilities to perform a given procedure or treatment.

Postoperative Management

  1. Maintain body temperature and continue intravenous fluid support as needed.
  2. Continuously monitor and record vital signs until the patient is awake.
  3. Continue pain management while the patient is in the hospital and upon discharge.

Postoperative Communication

  1. At time of discharge, discuss operative procedures.
  2. Discuss postoperative home care, including medications.
  3. Discuss any change in diet that might be necessary, such as a change to soft or premoistened food or to a prescription diet.
  4. Provide individualized oral and written instructions at the time of discharge.
  5. Establish an appointment for a follow-up examination and further discussion.

Home Care

  1. Telephone the client the day after the procedure to inquire about the pet’s condition
  2. Discuss client’s ability to implement the medication and home care plan
  3. Answer any questions and address client’s concerns

Progress or Follow-up Evaluations

  1. Set frequency of follow-up visits based on disease severity
    • At a minimum, annual visits if under 6 years of age with healthy mouth.
    • Visits every 6 months if 6 years or older with healthy mouth.
    • Visits every 6 months anytime gingivitis is present.
    • Visits every 3 to 6 months if periodontal disease is present.
    • Advanced periodontal disease requires monthly examinations until the disease is controlled
  2. Reemphasize home care instructions and recommendations at each follow-up examination and phone communication.
  3. During subsequent examination, evaluate client compliance, revise the treatment plan as needed, and redefine the prognosis.

Source: Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association, September/October 2005, Volume 41

Dallas Veterinary Dentistry & Oral Surgery will also provide

  1. Dr. Nossaman will present and discuss digital intraoral radiographs on the computer in exam room upon discharge with each client.
  2. Dr. Nossaman will present and discuss numerous digital photographs of her oral findings on the computer in exam room upon discharge with each client.
  3. Provide copies of printed photographs for the client to take home, which can also be emailed upon request.

It is our sincere hope that you will allow us the opportunity to provide Excellence-In-Dentistry for your pets. 


Dog and Cat Pet Dental Brochure
AAHA Dental Care Guidelines for Pet Owners

AAHA Dental Care Guidelines for Veternarians
Oral Examination and Disease


8:30am – 7pm
Tuesday, Thursday
8:30am – 8pm
Wednesday, Friday
8:30am – 6pm
9am – 4pm