With a special dental focus this month we thought we would show you exactly what you can expect if your pet has a dental procedure with us.
Your pet is brought to the clinic on the morning of the dental having been fasted from the night before. A vet examines them and reviews any existing conditions, any medications and any other tests or requests for the day such as bloodwork or a nail trim. Pre-anaesthetic bloodwork is highly recommended to look for signs of any internal organ disease or abnormality that might affect your pet.
Your pet has an intravenous catheter placed and bandaged into one of their legs and placed on a drip, this helps maintain their blood pressure and metabolism before, during and after the anaesthetic.
Once they get the all clear to go ahead, an injection of pre-medication is administered for sedation and pre-emptive pain relief. The premedication takes effect within 10 - 30 minutes and then your pet is "induced" into general anaesthesia with another IV injection. They will then have a breathing tube placed and are connected to a machine delivering oxygen and anaesthetic gas.
Monitoring equipment is then placed to ensure your pet has a smooth and safe anaesthetic, this includes breathing rate, oxygen and carbon dioxide level monitoring, blood pressure, heart rate and ECG monitoring. Eyes are lubricated as they cant blink for themselves, warming blankets and equipment keep their body temperature stable. These parameters will be continually checked throughout your pets anaesthetic.
The next step in the dental is full mouth radiographs! Xrays are taken of all the teeth, including the roots and jaw bones. We are lucky to have this to offer our patients as it is not available in all veterinary clinics and it allows the vet to look beneath the gums. Some things that may show up on x-ray but aren't visible at all from looking in the mouth include abscesses, bone loss and resorption of roots, just to name a few!
Now its time for the teeth cleaning!
An Ultrasonic scaler is used to clean the inside and outside surface of the teeth and under the gums removing all plaque and tartar build up. The teeth are then inspected by the vet and this is the time, in combination with the dental x-rays that we decide if any teeth require extraction.
Here's just a few reasons why we might need to extract a tooth
- it's mobile (loose)
- it's abscessed and has infected bone
- it has severe root exposure
- it's broken and the pulp cavity is infected.
If extractions are necessary we then do dental nerve blocks, this ensures that your pet feels no pain stimulus and allows for a safer anaesthetic too.
Small teeth (eg. incisors) are removed by simply elevating around the tooth and root, with a special instrument, but large teeth, especially with multiple roots need surgical extraction techniques, including sectioning (cutting) the teeth and gum flaps to access the roots. These types of extractions are also closed with tiny dissolvable stitches in the gums.
Once all necessary extractions have been carried out, all of the remaining teeth have flouride polish applied, the mouth is rinsed and PRESTO! your pet has beautiful clean teeth and fresh breath!
But our job doesn't finish there, it is very important that patients are monitored closely during recovery. Once the dental is completed, the anaesthetic gas is turned off and your pet breathes in oxygen whilst they are regaining consciousness. Pets are often disoriented and shakey and need to be kept warm. It is a common site at Sunbury Animal Hospital to see one of our nurses cuddling or sitting beside a pet as they are waking up and we know they appreciate the comfort.
Additional pain relief and medications are prescribed as well as home care advice for owners to take home with their pet. We go over any instructions and answer any questions you might have at a special discharge appointment.
And that's a typical dental at Sunbury Animal Hospital!
We hope you enjoyed reading about it and we would love to see your pets here for their free dental checks this month.