Why Dental Care is Important For Your Pet
Just like us, our pets need routine dental cleaning and care. Clean teeth are important to your pet’s health for many reasons. Tartar buildup can lead to gingivitis which is an inflammation of the gums. Over time the teeth begin to deteriorate, and eventually the root structure will also break down. Not only does this make it challenging for your pet to eat, but it can also be painful. The bacteria which builds up in the mouth begins to gain access to the bloodstream. When dental disease progresses to this state, internal organs such as the kidneys, liver and heart can become affected. In short, your pet’s dental health can affect the overall health of the entire body and its functions.
Signs That Your Pet Needs Dental Attention
Bad breath may be the first and most noticeable sign that your pet needs oral care. You may also notice your pet is eating slower, has more difficulty chewing, or is dropping food out of his or her mouth. Severity of dental disease can vary, and all pets do not respond to pain in the same way. Often cats and dogs can be experiencing pain, but are skilled at hiding it. When you bring your pet in for a yearly wellness exam, our veterinarians will examine your pet’s teeth carefully, and let you know what dental care is needed. If you feel your pet is already having problems, or is in pain, please give us a call.
Why Your Pet Needs to Undergo Anesthesia
Anesthesia is essential for veterinary dental procedures to ensure that the procedure can be done safely and successfully. When we as humans go to have our teeth scaled and polished at the dentist, we sit still in the chair and open our mouths to let the professional do their job. Pet’s teeth need the same attention and good hygiene that human’s teeth need, with the same level of cooperation from the patient. The significant difference is that humans generally understand why the procedure is important and do not need sedation, while this is not the case for our pets.
About Our Dental Procedures
Before any procedure is performed, our veterinarians carefully examine the patient head-to-toe to ensure they are healthy and able to safely undergo anesthesia. Pre-anesthetic blood work is offered to all of our patients, and is strongly recommended to identify any underlying health problems that may interfere with the safety of the procedure. An intravenous catheter is placed in patients over 7 years old, or patients whose procedure will take longer than 30 minutes. Some patients who have health issues may also receive a catheter at the veterinarians’ discretion. Catheters are helpful for a variety of reasons. They allow us to give the patient IV fluids to ensure proper hydration levels. This makes the kidneys' job easier while processing the drugs used for anesthesia. The rate of fluids being infused can also affect the patient’s blood pressure, giving us a way to compensate for hypotension (low blood pressure) should it arise. Also a catheter gives us easy access to a vein, should the patient require any IV medications that need to be given quickly.
Our patients are given a small dose of a pre-anesthetic medication to relax them before we induce anesthesia. The eyes are lubricated to ensure that the delicate tissue remains moist, even if the patient is not blinking. Once patients are relaxed and ready, we induce anesthesia. All of the drugs we use work together (synergistically), to provide safe anesthesia and pain control. Once induced, patients are intubated with an endotracheal tube which will provide constant and controlled amounts of oxygen and Isoflurane. This gives us a route to ensure that the patient is breathing properly, and if needed, we can breathe for the patient. Giving periodic breaths of oxygen for the patient also prevents lung collapse. The level of Isoflurane the patient receives is under constant monitoring to ensure that the safest plane of anesthesia is maintained, while keeping the patient unconscious, and ensuring that no pain is felt during the procedure. We closely monitor all of the patients vitals including heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, pulse strength, SPO2 (percent of oxygenation), capillary refill time, and mucus membrane color. We use monitoring equipment, as well as skilled technicians who physically check vitals and reflexes.
Once the patient is safely under anesthesia, we take a photo of the teeth. We also take a photo afterwards to give to you so you can compare. The difference is often incredible! We remove the tartar from the teeth via electronic scaling, as well as scaling with hand tools. We also carefully check under the gum line to remove any tarter that may be lurking there. Once the tarter is removed, we polish the teeth to restore a smooth glossy surface which will discourage future tartar buildup.
The veterinarian will carefully examine the mouth for any problem areas that need attention. This may include: fractured teeth or teeth with root loss that need extraction, overgrown gum lines that need trimming, pockets (loose area between gum and tooth) that can be filled with antibacterial gel, oral masses, or any other conditions which may require attention. The veterinarian will take dental x-rays as needed to assess the tooth and root structure. This helps us determine if extractions are needed. Before extracting any teeth, a nerve block consisting of lidocaine and bupivicaine is administered to numb the area. Once all the procedures are completed, the mouth is rinsed with a minty fresh antibacterial rinse. A waxy material called Oravet is then applied to all the teeth to create a barrier which discourages any plaque or tarter from building up for the next week. If needed, we will give an injection of a pain medication, NSAID or antibiotic as deemed necessary by the veterinarian.
Once we are finished, we continue to monitor the patient as they wake up. We routinely check their temperature to guard against post-anesthetic hypothermia. All surgery patients are kept in comfy cages with heat support and cozy blankets, in plain view of our medical staff, so we can make sure they are waking without complications. Typically, patients are able to go home the same day.
Other dental services we provide as needed include: sealants, root canals, and consil putty for deep rooted extractions to encourage bone regrowth. Dr Ledyard is extensively trained and has taken many extra dental courses in advanced dental techniques including: dental radiology, oral surgery, and endodontics (including root canals).
Dental Follow-Up Visit
A complimentary Dental Follow-Up visit is recommended two weeks after your pet has a dental cleaning. We reserve a 20 minute appointment with one of our registered veterinary technicians. During this visit, a technician will discuss your pet's home dental care and help you tailor a home-care plan to best meet your pet's needs. Modes of care include brushing, rinsing such as water additives, as well as foods and treats effective in reducing tartar and keeping gums healthy. A healthy mouth will contribute to a long, pain-free, and happy life for your companion. This follow-up visit is recommended, especially if your pet has had one or more extractions; we want to ensure that the expected healing process has been met.
Financial Options, and the Cost of Quality Dental Care
We offer our clients several financial options to help maintain their pet’s optimal health. We accept, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, Care Credit, personal checks, and can also set up a pre-payment plan. We also offer a complimentary dental consultation to answer any questions or concerns that you may have prior to your appointment. Your veterinarian can provide an estimate, and you can choose a pre-payment that fits your budget. Once the estimated amount is reached, we can help you schedule your pet’s dental procedure.
We are honored to partner with you in helping your pet enjoy a happy, healthy, pain-free life. Please call or email us anytime!