Schedule your pet’s FREE dental consultation today! Your pet’s stage of dental disease will be reviewed, as well as a plan to address any oral health issues.
Has your Dog or Cat been recommended to have a dental procedure performed? Have you noticed issues with your pet’s teeth or gums? You aren’t alone!
Dental disease is one of the most common conditions our pets face! Please read our frequently asked questions to get a better understanding of veterinary dentistry.
How can I tell if my pet needs a dental cleaning and examination?
Dental disease is common in pets, affecting over two-thirds of cats and three-quarters of dogs over the age of 3. The signs your pet is developing dental disease can be subtle. If you look at the outsides of your pet’s teeth, you may notice a yellow-brown discolouration. This discolouration typically indicates tartar build up. The gums may appear thickened or red, indicating gingivitis is present. If you notice these changes, or if your pet has ‘bad breath’, it is likely time to have a dental examination and cleaning.
What exactly is involved in a dental procedure for my pet?
Your pet will be admitted to the hospital after an overnight fast. This prepares your pet for anesthesia. Your pet will be examined to ensure they are healthy enough for anesthesia and recent blood results will be reviewed. With this information, your veterinarian will formulate an anesthetic protocol tailored to your pet. Your pet will be given an injection of a sedative which induces relaxation and starts pain control, which is important in the event that any tooth extractions are needed.
Once your pet is very relaxed, an intravenous catheter (or port into the vein) will be placed, usually in the front leg. There will be a small area of fur that is shaved for this. Your pet will receive intravenous fluid therapy which helps maintain adequate blood pressure, hydration, and allows for the administration of other medications.
Additional medications are given to your pet to induce general anesthesia, so that your pet is completely unconscious for the dental procedure. A breathing tube is placed which prevents fluids from the mouth from entering the lungs and allows your veterinarian to deliver oxygen and anesthetic gasses to your pet. Your pet will be given only enough anesthetic gas to maintain anesthesia, which is monitored by recording your pet’s blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate repeatedly throughout the procedure.
All tooth surfaces in the mouth are thoroughly cleaned using a combination of ultrasonic and hand scaling. The tartar and plaque beneath the gum line is what causes gingivitis and periodontal disease in your pet, and this will also be removed. Your veterinarian will then examine each tooth for evidence of chips, fractures, cavities, and deeper than normal pockets beneath the gum line. Any of these lesions may require extraction of the affected tooth. Finally, the teeth will be polished, which smooths the enamel surface of the teeth and helps delay the return of plaque and tartar.
After the procedure is finished, your pet will slowly recover from the anesthetic. Once your pet is aware enough to swallow, the breathing tube is removed. You pet will spend several hours in the hospital and continue to receive fluid therapy and frequent monitoring during recovery. Most pets will be discharged in the afternoon or evening.
All dental procedures include a reassessment 10-14 days following the procedure to ensure there were no complications from the anesthetic and to review the best dental preventative care for your pet in the future. A free bag of Hill’s T/D dental diet is included for all pets following a dental procedure, if this diet is appropriate for your pet.
What if my pet requires tooth extractions?
If extractions are indicated, your pet will receive a local anesthetic (freezing) to prevent any disturbance to the anesthetic depth and to prevent your pet from feeling painful upon anesthetic recovery. Smaller, single rooted teeth (like incisors) can be removed intact. Larger teeth or teeth with multiple roots may require a surgical extraction, where the gums overlying the tooth roots are temporarily separated from the bone and elevated so that the tooth roots can be accessed. Multi-rooted teeth like molars will have the roots separated from each other using a dental drill and removed using special instruments specifically for this procedure. Once the tooth and roots have been extracted, the socket is cleaned and the gum tissue is stitched closed with dissolvable suture material.
Will my pet be able to eat normally after the procedure?
We do advise giving your pet a smaller than normal meal the evening following the dental procedure. You may return to normal meals by the following morning. If your pet had any dental extractions, you may be advised to temporarily feed canned food or to soak your pet’s regular kibble in water to soften the food. This helps prevent damage to the extraction site as it heals.
How will I know when to return to normal food after dental extractions?
All dental procedures include a recheck examination, where your veterinarian will be able to assess the healing of the gum tissue. This is typically completed 10-14 days following the dental procedure. You will be advised at this time whether your pet is ready to return to your regular diet. Unless you are advised differently, continue feeding soft food until the recheck examination.
Why does my pet’s dental exam and cleaning cost more than my own dental cleaning?
A significant portion of the costs of dental procedures is the requirement for general anesthetic. Unlike with people, it is impossible to safely and thoroughly perform any dental cleaning or thorough examination in a conscious animal. As you can read under the FAQ above, the anesthetic procedure involves multiple medications, fluid therapy, and monitoring devices. In addition, the veterinarian and professionally trained veterinary staff dedicate a significant amount of their time specifically for your pet before, during, and after the procedure.
We believe we have priced our dental procedures fairly and competitively. However, if you have received a more affordable dental estimate from a local veterinary hospital, we will match their fees for equivalent services.
My pet doesn’t seem painful. Are dental extractions really needed?
Pets seldom show obvious signs of pain even with severe dental disease. Pets will continue to eat normally, even if the action of chewing causes pain. They do this because their hunger overrides their discomfort. There may be more subtle signs that your pet is uncomfortable that can be more vague, like decreased energy, which many often attribute to normal aging. What can be surprising is that older pets often become more active and energetic following a dental, when their infected teeth were extracted, relieving a source of chronic pain.
Is there anything I can do after the dental procedure to keep my pet’s mouth healthy?
Daily brushing is one of the best ways to prevent plaque from accumulating, which ultimately leads to tartar formation and gingivitis. Use a soft toothbrush or cloth to clean your pet’s teeth along with a pet toothpaste.
In addition to brushing, using HealthyMouth water additive immediately following a dental cleaning will delay the accumulation of plaque; and feeding your pet Hill’s T/D food will also prevent plaque and tartar build up! You may find other dental treats or products, but it is best to select products that have been approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC), as these products have been evaluated to ensure they are effective. Visit http://www.vohc.org for more information!
If you have any further questions about your pet’s dental procedure, please do not hesitate to ask!