Dentistry at Stack Veterinary Hospital
Our dental cleanings are equivalent to a periodontal cleaning for humans and are completed under general anesthesia. The same goals of pain control, safety and comfort explained under Anesthesia and Surgery apply to all of our dental procedures. The dental procedure consists of a complete oral exam, ultrasonic scaling and probing along the gum line, polishing with fluoride paste and accurate oral charting. Dental x-rays are frequently used to diagnose hidden problems. Patients are sent home with a full dental care package and you are educated during the discharge appointment on preventative care that you may provide at home for your pet.
Dental home care helps keep a pet's mouth free of pain and infection, and our staff stresses the importance of daily brushing, proper diet and disease prevention. Our dental team treats diseases of teeth and gums, extracts problem teeth, and leaves your pet's mouth clean and polished.
Because general anesthesia is necessary while cleaning your pet’s teeth, the process begins with a physical examination. Your pet’s teeth are examined at this time and given a grade. Your pet’s teeth are graded on a scale of 1 to 4 to indicate the severity of dental disease present. Also during the exam we look for any broken or diseased teeth that may need special attention during the dental procedure.
Your pet’s general health must be evaluated before anesthesia is administered to ensure that he/she is not put at risk. This is the reason why so many tests are performed prior to your pet having his/her teeth cleaned. A veterinarian will do a complete head to tail examination of your pet. This includes listening to your pet’s heart to make sure that no abnormalities are present.
Laboratory Testing and Electrocardiogram (EKG)
Pre-anesthetic bloodwork is done in order to screen for underlying problems with your pets liver or kidneys that could potentially put your pet at risk. It is important that these organs are functioning properly, because many of the drugs that are given to put a patient under anesthesia, as well as pain medications, are processed by the liver and kidneys.
After your pet’s bloodwork is done we will perform an EKG. An EKG measures electrical conductivity of the heart. By reviewing an EKG the veterinarian is able to decide whether your pet’s heart is healthy enough to undergo anesthesia.
Once your pet’s veterinarian determines that your pet is healthy enough to undergo anesthesia, we can begin the dental procedure.
Preparing for the Dental
Your pet is first given a pre-medication for relaxation and pain control. Then an intravenous catheter is placed. This allows access for the administration of IV medications as well as fluids during the procedure. Intravenous fluids provide support for the circulatory system during anesthesia as well as keep your pet hydrated.
An endotracheal tube is placed in your pet’s airway to allow for the administration of oxygen and anesthetic gases. It also serves to keep your pet’s airways clear of debris and water during the dental procedure.
Once your pet is anesthetized he/she is monitored closely with a variety of monitoring equipment. Our monitoring equipment includes electrocardiogram (EKG), pulse oximeter, blood pressure monitor and thermometer probe. This equipment helps us pay close attention to your pet’s heart rate and rhythm, blood oxygen levels, respiration, blood pressure, and body temperature.
The Dental Procedure
Once anesthetized your pet will undergo a complete oral examination. The dental technician will evaluate the degree of tartar buildup, any fractured or broken teeth, missing teeth and /or periodontal disease.
Your pet’s teeth are probed to check for any pockets that are developing around the gum line. Even though a tooth may look fine on the surface an abnormal pocket around the gum line of a tooth is an indication of a diseased tooth and will need to be addressed. The dental technician also charts all of your pet’s teeth so we have a record of your pet’s dental health, including missing or extracted teeth as well as any abnormalities noted.
After your pet’s teeth are probed the dental technician manually removes the larger pieces of calculi that are present.
Your pet’s teeth are then ultrasonically scaled. This step is key in the removal of tartar and plaque from above and below the gum line of the teeth. Bacteria below the gum line is the main cause of periodontal disease and can eventually result in the loss of those teeth.
After your pet’s teeth are ultrasonically scaled they are polished. The teeth are polished with a mildly abrasive paste that contains fluoride. The purpose of polishing the teeth is to smooth out any scratches that may have been made while the teeth were being scaled. Removing these rough surfaces helps to deter the re-accumulation of bacteria and plaque that will lead to tartar build-up.
Lastly, after all of the teeth are scaled and polished we apply a gel along the gum line to help slow down the build-up of tartar after the dental cleaning.
If the health of any tooth is in question, a dental x-ray may be taken to evaluate the tooth roots and underlying bone structure. A decision may be made to extract the tooth, or to attempt to save the tooth. Often the degree of dental home care you can provide is a major factor in deciding the fate of a tooth.
Every pet waking up from anesthesia receives a warm fluffy blanket, warming discs, and a team member to comfort them.