1. Planning and anesthesia: Unlike human dentists, veterinarians and their staff do not have the option of telling our patients to open wide and say “Ah.” For this reason, all of our dental procedures are done under full anesthesia and monitoring. Anesthesia has evolved tremendously in the last few decades, with drugs that are safer and a greater ability to monitor vital functions in our patients. Animals undergoing anesthesia receive intravenous fluids to maintain hydration and blood pressure; they are also continuously monitored for changes in heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygenation, blood pressure, temperature, and expired CO2. To further increase safety during procedures, we recommend blood work prior to anesthesia to ensure that we are using the most appropriate anesthetic protocol for your individual pet.
2. Dental cleaning and examination: The first step in every dental procedure is a thorough cleaning, using ultrasonic scaling equipment to remove tartar from the surface of the teeth, in between teeth, and under the gum line. Once the tartar has been removed, we are able to examine the mouth for any underlying disease, including tooth fractures or enamel defects, tooth root infections, as well as abnormalities of the gum tissue or surrounding jaw bone as a consequence of dental disease. The final portion of the dental cleaning is polishing. This is a very important step, as it ensures that the tiny abrasions caused by tartar removal are smoothed over, protecting the tooth and slowing the accumulation of tartar. Animals that are prone to heavy tartar build-up may also benefit from the application of a dental sealant (we use Sanos) to help increase the time between dental cleanings.
3. Dental X-rays: Dental x-rays are performed on every patient, because they allow us to see what is going on under the gumline. While teeth may look perfectly healthy above the gumline, there can be disease of the tooth roots and surrounding bone (fractures, infection), only visible with x-rays.
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