During your pet’s latest wellness examination, we may have discussed some issues noted inside your furry friend’s mouth: tartar accumulation, inflamed gums, bad breath, maybe even pus pockets around teeth. All of these symptoms hint at a larger problem: dental disease, which is capable of traveling through the bloodstream and infecting other organs with periodontal bacteria.
To prevent tooth loss, infection, and pain, you decide to schedule a comprehensive dental cleaning. But, what exactly will happen when you drop your pet off for her dental work? Here’s the rundown on the steps taken—from initial exam to cleaning to homeward bound—to keep your pet’s oral health in tip-top shape:
1. Perform an oral examination. Initially, we’ll attempt to peer into your pet’s mouth. Many pets do not allow a thorough examination, but will allow us to peek enough to get a general idea of the state of the teeth and gums. A tentative grade of dental disease will be assigned, which will help us plan for a comprehensive dental cleaning.
2. Run pre-anesthetic bloodwork. Before your pet undergoes anesthesia, we’ll ensure she is healthy enough to do so. Pre-anesthetic bloodwork tells us what’s going on inside your pet’s body. We’ll learn about her organ function, red blood cell production, and the number of inflammatory cells, all of which help us design a custom anesthetic protocol geared specifically to your pet.
3. Place an IV catheter and administer fluids. Think of an IV catheter as your pet’s lifeline while under anesthesia. Through it, we give anesthetic induction drugs, antibiotics, and pain medications. We also use it to give IV fluids.
4. Induce anesthesia. Once your pet is cleared and prepped for anesthesia, we will administer medications that will allow her to rest comfortably during the procedure. We’ll place an endotracheal (breathing) tube through the trachea (windpipe) to protect the airway, supply oxygen, and dispense anesthetic gas to keep your pet asleep during the procedure. During the entire anesthetic procedure, your beloved companion will be closely monitored by our highly trained health care team members and high-tech monitoring equipment. We will keep a close eye on your pet’s vital signs from the moment anesthesia begins until she is fully awake and recovered. You can rest assured that your pet is in safe hands during her dental procedure at our hospital
5. Take dental X-rays. Since the majority of dental issues occur beneath the gum line, X-rays are necessary to identify oral problems, including:
- Broken teeth
- Diseased or missing tooth roots
- Bone loss
6. Complete an anesthetized oral exam. After your pet is fully anesthetized, we can closely examine around each tooth for pockets or signs of pain and infection. We also look for any lumps or bumps and check out the tongue for abnormalities.
7. Perform local anesthesia if extractions are necessary. If there are any teeth that are beyond repair and will require extraction, we administer local anesthesia to block the pain response from those diseased teeth. This will help your pet feel much more comfortable after her dental procedure.
8. Scale off tartar and plaque accumulation. Once the diseased teeth are removed, we can focus on saving the remaining teeth. Our team will remove the tartar and find your furry friend’s sparkling white teeth underneath.
9. Polish out rough imperfections in teeth. Every-day wear and tear on the teeth roughs up the enamel, forming an uneven surface for sticky bacteria to latch onto and establish plaque formation. During a dental cleaning, microabrasions are also created by the scaling tip, and polishing after scaling helps remove those imperfections.
10. Top off with a fluoride treatment. After scaling and polishing, a fluoride treatment is applied to help make the crown a harder and smoother surface, strengthening it in its battle against infection.
11. Recover from anesthesia. Most pets recover quite well after a dental cleaning, even if they need teeth extracted. Diseased teeth are a significant source of pain, and removal provides instantaneous relief. Your pet will be a little groggy after anesthesia, and she may not want to eat much. We recommend feeding canned food or softening hard kibble with warm water for the next several days to allow the tenderness of the gum tissue to fade.
12. Head home with preventive dental care instructions. After a dental cleaning, you have the challenge of keeping those pearly whites shining. We’ll provide tips on brushing your pet’s teeth, plus we’ll let you in on our top recommendations for dental products proven to safely prevent tartar accumulation.
From tooth to tail, we are here for your pet’s entire wellness. Schedule a comprehensive oral examination and cleaning to start the New Year off with a bright, healthy smile.