What to Expect at Your Pet’s Dental Procedure

Jan 15, 2020 | Dental

“Your pet needs a dental examination.” Most owners dread the phrase, thinking it is code for yet another expensive, unnecessary procedure.

In reality, dental care is anything but unnecessary. For one, dental disease can be incredibly painful. Left unchecked, it can create serious problems in the heart, kidneys, and other organs. Some of these health conditions are irreversible and truly expensive to treat — much more expensive than dental care.

The Steps of a Veterinary Dental Care Appointment

Instead of a simple teeth cleaning a “dental” is really a comprehensive oral exam with radiographic evaluation. Depending on what the veterinarian finds below the gums, the dental could involve just a cleaning, or it could mean extracting damaged teeth.

Step One of a Veterinary Dental: The Pre-Exam

There are multiple steps associated with performing a “dental.” The first step is pre-anesthetic bloodwork and a physical exam. This allows the veterinarian to assess if your pet is a good candidate for anesthesia and to customize an anesthetic plan just for your pet. This helps reduce the chances of anesthetic complications.

Step Two: Keeping Your Pet Safe Through the Procedure

The next step is placing an intravenous catheter in your pet. This allows us to administer fluids during the procedure. Fluids are vital during these procedures because they allow your pet to maintain its blood pressure and flush harmful accumulations in its kidneys. The IV catheter also allows us to administer life-saving medications quickly and efficiently, if needed. Most patients are induced with injectable medications and maintained on gas anesthesia.

Why Does My Pet Need to be Sedated for a Dental Exam, Anyway?

Dogs and cats do not like having their mouths handled, so they tend to squirm against, and may even bite a vet prodding at their teeth. Not to mention that the procedure itself can be painful and anxiety provoking to our pets — think of common it is for humans to be put under whenever they go to the dentist! For these reasons, we have to anesthetize your pet in order to provide gold standard medicine.

Some businesses perform non-sedated dentals, but this only addresses tartar above the gum-line, and will not address any infections or pain. Non-sedated dentals can even damage the structural integrity of the teeth and cause more harm and pain.

Step Three: Checking Below the Gumline

Once the pet is at a good plane of anesthesia, we perform an oral exam, including radiography. A pet can have a perfectly normal looking mouth on the surface, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Radiographs allow veterinarians to look for abnormalities below the gumline like tooth root abscesses, resorption, retained roots, cysts, and even fractures, to name a few things.

Step Four: Checking Above the Gum Line

Next, we evaluate the crowns — the visible part of the teeth — and the gums themselves. A dental probe and explorer are used to note any pocketing in the gums, where infection may hide, or to find exposed pulp, which is incredibly painful.

How Veterinarians Determine Your Cat or Dog’s Dental Procedure

Once the dental radiographs and visual exam are finished, the veterinarian will be able to decide the best course of action.

Many Dogs and Cats Will Only Require a Dental Cleaning

If the exam found no or very little problems below the gums the veterinarian will proceed with a cleaning. This is very similar to the type of cleaning a human would get at the dentist, clearing away tartar and plaque. However, if the veterinarian found problems below the gums they will extract teeth.

Extractions for Tooth Root Abscesses

One common cause of extractions is a tooth root abscess. The bacteria found at these sites creates a biofilm over themselves which prevents antibiotics from killing them completely. Left untreated, these can be very painful. The only way to cure the abscess is to remove the source of infection itself.

Extractions for Resorptive Lesions

Another reason for extractions are resorptive lesions which are holes found in the teeth that expose the pulp which cause severe pain and can lead to infection. These lesions are so painful that even under anesthesia, the jaw will quiver when these areas are probed. If the tooth is healthy enough to remain, then it will be scaled, polished and have fluoride applied.

Care After Your Pet’s Dental Exam

Once the pet has woken up from anesthesia, your veterinarian will come up with a post-surgical plan. In most cases, you’ll be able to take your pet home the same day. If your cat or dog had a routine dental cleaning, this may just mean keeping it free from excitement for a few days while it recovers from anesthesia. If your pet had an infection and needed teeth extracted, its post-surgical plan will likely include antibiotics and pain medicine.
Establishing an Annual Dental Care Habit

It is incredible how many people note a difference in their pet’s energy and attitudes after a dental. This is because dental disease is painful and causes stress on the body. Dentals should be considered as a CORE (comprehensive oral exam and radiographic evaluation) part of your pets’ health, and you should consider scheduling a cleaning every six months to a year.

— Dr. Jenna Garza, DVM

For more information, contact our team at VETSS!

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This is our office manager Debbie’s handsome pup Gunner. He had his senior lab work done today.

We recommend annual senior lab work for most dogs and cats over 7 years old. This helps us screen for any disease process before there are complications. This helps us to treat early and more efficiently!

Gunner was happy to trade a blood draw for some treats and a pink bandaid. 💓
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This is our office manager Debbie’s handsome pup Gunner. He had his senior lab work done today. 

We recommend annual senior lab work for most dogs and cats over 7 years old. This helps us screen for any disease process before there are complications. This helps us to treat early and more efficiently!

Gunner was happy to trade a blood draw for some treats and a pink bandaid. 💓Image attachment

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Wow! What a great-looking dog. Gunner, give everybody there a kiss from us!

Handsome boy Debbie!

Ugh, such a good boy.

So handsome!

So CUTE!! ♥️🐾♥️🐾♥️🐾♥️

THAT FACE!!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

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We are gowned, gloved, masked, and ready to see your emergencies today! 😷Remember to stay in your car and give us a call 📞 Stay safe everyone! ... See MoreSee Less

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This place is great! They were wonderful to my Bella!

Thank you for all you do. We appreciate each and everyone of you.

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Good afternoon. VETSS has moved to low contact appointments to help combat the current pandemic.

Low-contact, or no-contact appointments offer the same care as a regular visit, without unnecessary exposure to others in waiting room spaces, and limits in-person interaction with our team members.

We are pleased to offer this service as a way to keep your pet’s care up-to-date and to help them when they are sick, while also protecting our clients, team, and community.
We can also deliver medication, food, and preventatives to your car, no appointment needed. Please call ahead so we can be prepared to greet you.

As committed members of our community, we understand the importance that your pet’s welfare plays in everyone’s heart, health, and family – especially during these times of social distancing and low interactions with others. Our highly-trained and dedicated staff are committed to continue serving the community through this period, just as we have over the years. In the medical field, we regularly deal with disease and infection control, and are required to maintain high standards of cleanliness and hygiene at all times, regardless of external factors.

Please click on this link if you would like more information.
emergency-vets.com/services/low-contact-appointments/
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