Prevention of dental disease requires regular evaluation of your pet’s teeth by you and your veterinarian. As you brush your pet’s teeth, you should observe for the presence of:
- Tartar accumulation on the teeth
- Redness of the gums
- Bleeding from the gums
- Bad odors from the mouth
If you notice any of these symptoms, bring your pet in to have the veterinarian evaluate the problem. Pets should have their teeth evaluated at least once yearly and preferably twice yearly. During the examination, the doctor and/or technicians will check for the problems listed above as well as any damaged teeth, tumors or other abnormalities in the mouth.
The doctor will evaluate your pet’s eligibility for anesthesia and determine if we can safely address your pet’s dental problems. In general, pets over the age of 5 will have blood tests run to check for underlying problems that might make anesthesia risky. Older pets (7 and above) may need additional tests based on their physical exam and age.
The Dental Cleaning Procedure
Once our veterinarians have determined that your pet is O.K. for anesthesia, we will administer a pre-anesthetic sedative. This will relax your pet and make induction of anesthesia easier. At the same time, an antibiotic injection will be administered to help combat the spread of bacteria from the mouth into the blood stream.
If your pet is 7 years or older, or if there is some other reason for it, an intravenous catheter will be placed in the vein and we will deliver fluids to help maintain the blood pressure and protect the kidneys from the effects of anesthesia.
Induction of Anesthesia:
Once your pet is relaxed, we will place them under anesthesia using a short acting induction agent. This injection will allow us to place an endotracheal tube in the trachea to maintain an open airway for your pet. Our veterinary team hook the isoflurane anesthesia machine up to this tube and deliver the anesthetic gas through it.
Next, we attach a number of electronic monitoring devices to your pet to help us keep track of their vital signs. These include Pulse Oximeter to monitor blood oxygen saturation, Blood pressure, respiratory, and electrocardiogram monitors. With the aid of these instruments, we can keep a constant watch on your pet and adjust our anesthetic gas rapidly in case of any problems.
When we have your pet at a stable anesthetic plane, we take radiographs (x-rays) of all the teeth in the mouth. This typically takes 6 different views to allow us to fully evaluate the teeth. They are developed by an assistant while the technician moves on to the next stage.
Next, we begin the cleaning process. First, we use an ultrasonic scaler to remove the hardened plaque from the teeth above and below the gumline. Then we use hand instruments to deep clean the roots.
Dental Probing and Charting:
Next, we use a dental probe to check every surface of each tooth. We are looking for deep pockets between the tooth and gum, fractured teeth, and other abnormalities. We compare the probing findings with our radiograph findings and develop a treatment plan for your pet. If we find advanced periodontal disease with bone loss and infection we might recommend extraction of the tooth. Mild cases may be helped with the infusion of Heska Perioceutic Gel which will help clear up the infection and reduce the size of the pocket between the tooth and gum.
Fractured teeth may be helped with root canal therapy or extraction. We record all of our findings in the pet’s medical record for future reference. Once we have a treatment plan developed, we call the owner to discuss our findings and gain authorization for treatment.
Dental Polishing and Fluoride Treatment
Finally, we polish the teeth with a high speed polisher. We finish our procedure by applying a fluoride treatment to the teeth and gums which will help fight the plaque bacteria for up to 3 months.