A comprehensive oral exam and dental treatment procedure for pets includes general anesthesia, scaling, polishing, and dental X-rays. Diseased teeth may be extracted for the health and comfort of the pet.
Both of our doctors have received specialized training with a boarded Veterinary Dentist and utilize all current best practices for the evaluation and treatment of periodontal disease at the general-practice level.
A thorough cleaning is a crucial part of maintaining oral health, but the insights provided by diagnosic tools both simple (manual probing) and advanced (intra-oral digital radiographs) are just as important for ensuring that pets do not suffer chronic pain or infections.
Content Warning: Please note that there are pictures of needles accompanying some of the following text descriptions, so please proceed with caution if you are sensitive.
1. Premedication: This is a preemptive pain medication with light sedation. The sedative aspect soothes anxiety and enables us to prepare for surgery. This allows us to use less anesthetic and allows for a smoother transition into and out of anesthesia.
We are committed to pain-free procedures and will also send home medication for you to give for several days afterwards to keep pets comfortable.
3. Anesthesia Induction: The anesthetic injection is administered through the IV catheter. An endotracheal tube is then placed to maintain the patient on isoflurane gas for general anesthesia.
The pet receives a steady flow of oxygen and the tube inhibits fluids associated with the treatment from entering the airways.
General anesthesia prevents patient movement, blocks pain, and keeps the pet from remembering the experience.
Local anesthesia injections are given directly at extraction sites, which completely numb any pain associated with surgery.
4. Anesthesia Monitoring and IV Fluids:
We want to ensure that the patient is comfortable and safe throughout the procedure. We monitor the anesthesia levels and patient vital signs during the whole process.
IV fluids are given through the IV catheter to prevent dehydration, especially after fasting all night. The IV catheter also gives us access for any further injections if needed.
5. Dental Radiographs (X-rays): We obtain full-mouth X-rays of every dental patient, something that is only possible under full anesthesia. Since much of dental disease occurs below the gumline, radiographs allow us to look for root fractures, abscesses, and loss of bone around the tooth that could be impossible to see with just a visual exam.
The doctor can review each digital image in real time to identify problems that would otherwise go unseen.
6. Ultrasonic Scaling: The teeth are cleaned by a gentle yet powerful machine that removes plaque and tartar. The trained technician guides the tooltip to clean tooth surfaces above and below the gums.
7. Hand Scaling and Charting: After ultrasonic scaling, we hand-scale each tooth surface individually to clean any spots the machine may have missed. We then chart and asses each tooth. This includes reviewing notes, X-rays, and the overall health of the tooth. Charting leads us to the next decision of whether to extract, monitor, or refer to a specialist.
8. Polishing: The final step in the dental cleaning procedure is polishing the teeth. Fine granules smooth the surface of each tooth, which reduces the buildup of tartar.
9. Extractions (if necessary): If your pet has diseased teeth as determined by visual examination, manual probing, or x-ray findings, the doctor will recommend extraction. Surgical extraction is necessary to prevent further infection, bone loss, and pain or discomfort. The extraction site(s) will have dissolvable sutures.
Specialized Techniques and Referral: While tooth extraction is the best option in many cases, there are occasions when other techniques may be beneficial, as well. In dogs where critical teeth have broken, for example, our doctors may suggest consultation with a veterinary dentist for root canal and/or a dental implant (crown). Veterinary dentists may also correct problems with bite alignment in young patients.
Here at our clinic, we may utilize bone grafts to restore lost sections of the jaw associated with major tooth extraction.
What can I do to help my pet's teeth?
Encourage them to chew appropriately-sized raw bones such as raw chicken necks/backs or raw turkey necks at least twice a week
Brush their teeth with pet toothpaste, and/or use an enzymatic antibacterial water additive like Dog or Cat Essential: Healthy Mouth