Ever wonder what happens to your dog or cat after you bring them to us for a dental cleaning? Do they REALLY need general anesthetic? Why can’t you just wait in the waiting room and take them home when they’re done? Why do they have to stay for the afternoon?
I’m going to try and shed some light on the subject of dentistry at Full Circle.
Start by bringing your “Bad Breath Buddy” in for an exam and dental quote. One of our kind veterinarians will give a full physical exam and have a look at those not-so-pearly whites. They will give you an general idea of the level of dental disease and write you an estimate for a dental treatment. The insides of the teeth, the tooth below the gum line and the depth of gingival pockets cannot be evaluated thoroughly in awake animals so our dental estimates can have quite a range between a straight forward cleaning to cleaning with major extractions. We do our very best to keep to the estimate, and if we get in there and find something unexpected, we will give you call!
So the day arrives and you anxiously come in at 8:15am with some new questions that you didn’t think of during your exam. That is no problem at all. You will be checked in by one of our knowledgeable technicians who will go over the entire procedure with you and answer any questions or concerns you might have. If you get anxious waiting to hear how your buddy is making out, we encourage you to call the clinic and our receptionist will be more than happy to come check in to see how they are doing.
Now before we get to the dental, we ensure your pets organs are functioning properly with some blood work so we ensure the absolute best chance of an easy uneventful anaesthesia and recovery. Once that is done and checked out by our vet, your Pal will be given a sedative and pre-surgical pain medication that will make them relax so we can easily place an intravenous catheter. The catheter is used to administer the induction drug that puts them to sleep for intubation (placing a tube into the windpipe to administer oxygen and gas anaesthetic). A catheter also allows for continual fluid therapy to maintain blood pressure, and access if emergency drugs need to be administered ( a rare occurrence).
Once a patient is asleep and intubated, they are hooked up to an anesthetic machine where they will breath an anesthetic gas that keeps them asleep for the entire procedure. We are continuously monitoring our patient and adjusting the amount of gas they get to keep them comfortably asleep (but not TOO asleep!). It can take several minutes for them to be ‘under’ enough to start the dental, so we take this time to do full mouth x-rays. This is a very important part of a dental cleaning, we never know what we might find under the surface of the gums. The x-rays sometimes surprise us!! If we see anything out of the ordinary on the x-rays, this is the time the vet might give you a call to update you on what we saw. For example, if the teeth looked like they were fine underneath all the tartar during the exam but the x-rays showed that several teeth had bone loss or fractures, you might want to know!
Now that we know what we are dealing with, the vet will perform the necessary extractions and if possible, suture the gums closed. After all the extractions are done, a technician will perform a dental cleaning on the remainder of the teeth. This involves removing the hard tartar, cleaning the surface of the tooth and under the gum line. Several tools are used to clean the teeth, ranging from an ultrasonic scaler to hand tools. This part of the dental on average takes about an hour. When clean, we apply an antibacterial wash and blow it under the gum line with a burst of air, then polish each tooth with an electronic polisher and paste. The teeth are now sparkling white and the bad breath is gone!
Now that the teeth are clean, the patient can be taken off gas and recovered. While your little sleeping beauty wakes up we do our best to clean them up and dry around their face. We use a lot of water during a dental cleaning and it’s hard to keep a their furry face clean and dry! Once they are able to sit up a bit on their own, our patient is moved from the heating pad on the surgery table to a kennel laced with warming pucks and heated bean bags. They are continuously monitored during their recovery and they receive fluid therapy for the afternoon. A discharge appointment is made when we call you to let you know they are awake and doing well.
At the discharge appointment, a technician will go over the dental procedure with you and show you the x-rays that were taken. We will recommend some ways to help keep the teeth clean at home and trouble shoot any problems you’ve had with trying to brush your pets teeth or using any of the dental products that are recommended for slowing down the re-deposition of plaque and tartar. You will also receive a before and after picture of the teeth, and discharge instructions to prepare you for what to expect when you get home, and when to administer any medications. You are then reunited with your fresh breath friend and sent on your way with a reminder that you can contact us any time with any questions or concerns.
I hope this answers any questions you might have regarding bringing your pet to us for a dental cleaning!
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Our dynamic, passionate and dedicated customer care team wants you to experience inspired, integrated veterinary health care. Our broadly educated veterinarians, technologists and clerical support staff meld conventional veterinary medicine and surgery with diverse special interest fields including: nutrition (commercial and home prepared feeding plans), diagnostic ultrasound, acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, canine rehabilitation, feline focused medicine and more. Take the first step and join us online at www.fullcirclevet.ca to learn more and to link to our Facebook page.