Does My Pet Need a Dental? What’s Involved in Dental Cleanings?

By October 2, 2018Uncategorized

Up to 85% of dogs and cats over the age of 6 have dental disease. Dental disease is very common, but not “normal” in pets!  Dental tartar is a source of infection in animals and will progress to painful tooth loss.

How do I know if my pet has dental disease? 

Signs of oral and dental diseases in dogs and cats include:

– Bad breath.
– Loose teeth or teeth that are discoloured or covered in tartar.
– Your pet shies away from you when you touch the mouth area.
– Drooling or dropping food from the mouth.
– Bleeding from the mouth, pawing at the mouth, or lumps/bumps in the mouth

What does a dental procedure involve? 

Your pet will have a physical exam, blood work if necessary, and an intravenous catheter before anaesthesia is given.  Your pet is given a pre-anaesthetic medication to help calm them prior to the procedure, provide pain medication for during the procedure, and these medications also lessen how much gas anaesthesia is required during the procedure. After your pet is anaesthetised he/she will be hooked up to monitors and monitored by a qualified Nurse to decrease the risk of any complications.  All of your pet’s teeth will be cleaned, polished, and evaluated for health.  We will clean well under the gum-line and evaluate for periodontal disease.  Radiographs (x-rays) of the teeth will be taken if appropriate and extractions will be performed if necessary.  Our clinic has invested in dental radiology equipment, anaesthetic monitoring equipment and high speed dental equipment to ensure your pet gets the best possible dental care we can offer

What are dental radiographs (x-rays) and are they necessary

Just like with our dentists, dental x-rays allow us to evaluate the tooth below the gum-line as well as evaluate the enamel of the teeth.  If you cannot see the roots or bone, then we can’t either so x-rays are needed  as a tooth may appear healthy on the surface but have diseased roots or pockets of infection beneath the gum-line that are causing pain.  Common painful problems that could be identified with radiographs are broken teeth and roots, associated bone loss, periodontal disease, dead teeth, abscesses or infected teeth.

How will my pet eat if several teeth are extracted? 

This is a concern for many clients, however removing diseased teeth is actually better for your pet than leaving in damaged, infected teeth.  No teeth is better than bad teeth!  In many cases, once the diseased teeth are removed the pet actually eats better because the pain and infection are gone!

My pet still eats fine and the teeth look bad…is he/she in pain? 

Animals have a strong natural instinct to hide pain.  Normal eating is not a reliable indicator of pain! In many cases clients state a major change in pets’ behaviour after dental disease is appropriately treated.  Often changes that are interpreted as normal signs of aging, such as slowing down and seeming less playful, are actually due to pain!

Why do you have to use anaesthesia to clean my pet’s teeth?

Have you ever tried to look in your pet’s mouth or brush your pet’s teeth for an extended period of time?  We have and it is not easy on your pet or us!  Anaesthesia allows us to evaluate your pet’s mouth safely for everyone involved.  Pets need to be under anaesthesia so we can ultrasonically scale the inside and outside of the teeth as well as beneath the gum-line. Anaesthesia provides three important functions: immobilization to allow us to clean below the gum line, pain control, and the ability to place a tube into the windpipe, so bacterial products do not enter the respiratory system.  Anaesthesia also allows us to evaluate for mobility in the teeth, take appropriate x-rays of the teeth, and if necessary, go ahead and extract a tooth all in one event.  Anaesthesia allows for a minimal amount of x-rays to be taken since the pet is not mobile and this decreases your pet’s exposure also.

I am worried about anaesthesia, is my pet too old for a dental procedure?

Pets are never too old to have pain and infection treated. We take every effort to provide safe anaesthesia. As part of the pre-dental examination pets are given pre-operative tests depending on their age and condition to qualify them for anaesthesia. We use gas anaesthesia, and patients are monitored while anesthetised both visibly and with similar monitoring devices as used in human hospitals. Patients are supervised during recovery from anaesthesia by qualified nurses.

How much does a dental cost?

Veterinary dentals are expensive (whether just a cleaning or a more invasive oral procedure) because your pet requires anaesthesia to perform a thorough, complete, and proper dental cleaning.  Your pet’s dental cleaning often takes 1-2 hours and this is often dependent on how many teeth need to be extracted.  Extractions, especially of multi-rooted teeth, are often time-consuming.  It is often hard to give an exact estimate because we don’t know what we are going to uncover once we clean the tartar off the teeth, take x-rays, and probe the teeth for disease.  We try to be as accurate as possible, but this is difficult due to the unknown.

Our estimates include the examination, pre anaesthetic bloods, fluids during the procedure, anaesthesia, pain medication, antibiotics if necessary, x-rays if necessary, and extractions if we think they are needed.  If we weren’t expecting an extraction, we will often call you during the procedure to discuss this and let you know what the additional cost will be.

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