Dental health plays an important role in the overall health of our pets. Depending on the condition of your pet’s teeth, we will surely recommend at least one dental cleaning over the lifetime of your pet. Most pets who live to life expectancy should be getting their teeth cleaned up to every other year as they pass into the geriatric stage. You can learn more about the causes and incidence of dental disease by following the link to Dental Care under http://petkareclinic.com/medical-services/.
Many pet owners are not sure of the process when the veterinarian recommends a “dental cleaning”. Here is what you can expect:
1. Make an appointment. Currently our veterinarians are performing dental procedures Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of every week. When you schedule your pet’s “dental”, you will need to choose, or you will be assigned a time and date for admittance, usually between 8am and 9am and you can expect your pet to stay with us for most of the day. The front desk staff will also remind you not to feed you pet after 10pm the night before the procedure. Water is ok. Now is a good time to ask that an treatment plan be emailed to you. This will give you a breakdown of the procedure including estimated costs.
2. Admittance. When you arrive on the morning of the procedure, you will be asked to weigh your pet and then you and your pet will be escorted into an exam room. Next, a veterinary technician will arrive to inquire about the general and recent health of your pet. She will then go over the treatment plan with you and answer any questions you may have. You will be asked to give consent to proceed with the proposed treatment by signing the treatment plan and providing us with a good daytime contact number. Finally, the technician will take your pet to treatment to start the procedure. The doctor will call you when the procedure is over and give you a time frame for pick-up.
3. The pre-anesthetic procedure. Most likely, your pet will need pre-anesthetic blood work before beginning the procedure. The blood will be drawn as soon as possible after admittance and run on our in-house laboratory machines. This blood work is important to make sure there are no underlying health issues that would compromise the safety of the procedure. Some pets have had this blood work done and sent to an outside laboratory at a previous appointment. For those that have not, we will run the test in the hospital and have the results within minutes. As longs as the lab work results are normal, your pet will have an intravenous catheter placed, usually in one of their front legs. This ensures access to a vein during the procedure for medications and IV fluids to be administered. When it is time for your pet’s procedure, he/she will be given a pre-anesthetic injection, usually containing an analgesic (pain medication) and sometimes a sedative if your pet is very anxious or hyper. Your pet will then be placed on IV fluids in preparation for anesthesia.
4. General anesthesia. An injection of a safe anesthetic called Propofol will be administered so he/she falls asleep. Immediately following, an endotrachael tube will be placed in the trachea to provide a clear airway. The tube will be connected to a flow of a mixture of oxygen and a gas anesthetic called isoflurane. For the duration of the procedure, this gas mixture will be administered and monitored closely to make sure your pet remains asleep. A pulse oximeter (measures heart rate and oxygen saturation), a blood pressure cuff and EKG leads (measure the electrical activity in the heart) will now be attached for continuous monitoring and documentation throughout the procedure.
5. The dental cleaning. A technician will then clean every surface of every tooth with an ultrasonic cleaning instrument. Then she will polish the teeth with a prophylactic electronic hand polisher and toothpaste. Next, the veterinarian will inspect every tooth for evidence of disease or fractures. If any are found to be suspect, a dental radiograph, or xray, is usually warranted to assess the extent of disease or injury in order to determine if the tooth can be saved or if it will need to be extracted. If extractions were not anticipated, you may have requested that the vet call you before extracting any teeth. After obtaining consent, the doctor will perform any necessary extractions. Depending on the situation, a local nerve block, laser treatment, and/or sutures may be necessary.
6. Recovery. When the procedure is completed, the anesthetic gas will be turned off and the patient will remain on oxygen until he/she begins to awaken. When the patient is awake enough, the endotrachael tube will be removed and they will be recovered in one of the cages in treatment where they can be observed until they are fully awake. At this time, the veterinarian will call you to let you know how things went and when you can expect to pick up your pet.
7. Discharge. When you come to the office to pick up your pet, one of our front desk representatives will take your payment for the procedure and give you take home instructions including before and after photos. Next, you will be escorted to an exam room where a technician will go over those instructions with you and any medications to go home as well as answer any questions you may have.
8. Follow-up. If your pet had teeth extracted, the veterinarian will usually want to see him/her back in 2 weeks for a recheck at no charge.