Dental surgeries make up a large component of our everyday procedures here at Close Veterinary Clinic. Did you know that dental disease is the most common infectious disease in Canada? Approximately 85% of pets over one year of age show signs of dental disease. These signs may include bad breath, plaque, bleeding gums, changes in eating habits, tooth loss, drooling and many more. Prevention and control of dental disease may include brushing your pet’s teeth or a dental diet. For many pets, periodic professional cleanings are required. Are you nervous or curious about the steps involved in a dental procedure for your pet? We’ll take you through each step of a dental procedure with us!
Admission for Surgery
We ask that you arrive between 7:30-8:30 am the day of surgery – please remember: no food or treats after 7 pm the night before and no breakfast the day of! On the morning of your pet’s surgery, you will be greeted by one of our friendly receptionists. This is when we will go over the pre-operative paperwork, answer any remaining questions you may have and weigh your pet. We will then bring them to our treatment area to get started.
Prior to sedation and surgery, a technician will pull blood and process it using our in-house laboratory machines. The bloodwork results are always evaluated by a veterinarian prior to proceeding with surgery. Bloodwork prior to surgery is used as a screening test to check kidney and liver function, red and white blood cell counts as well as possible clotting problems. Pre-operative bloodwork will help better assess your pet’s overall health and if they are okay to undergo anesthesia. It will also allow the veterinarian to determine the safest drugs to use.
Pre-Operative Sedation and Hospitalization
While bloodwork is running, the technician will take your pet’s heart rate, respiratory rate and temperature to use as a baseline for monitoring during surgery. Based on their current weight, a sedative is given 15-20 minutes prior to surgery to relax your pet and to provide pre-operative pain management. Your pet is then allowed to rest until it is time for surgery!
All of our dental patients have an intravenous catheter placed pre-operatively. This will aid induction, provide easy venous access in case of emergency and allow the administration of IV fluids throughout surgery to prevent dehydration. Once your pet is calm and sedate and their IV catheter has been placed, they are anesthetized using an induction solution. They will then be intubated and maintained under anesthesia via an inhalant gas. We will continue to monitor your pet and once stable, we will move them into the dental suite.
Your pet will be monitored by a veterinarian and a technician throughout their dental procedure to ensure that they are stable under anesthesia. Blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and temperature will all be recorded for close monitoring.
Cleaning and Polishing
Once your pet is settled in the dental suite and connected to the monitoring and anesthetic equipment, the technician will begin cleaning their teeth. Surface plaque and tartar will be removed first by using an ultrasonic scaler. The teeth will then be polished to reduce future plaque/tartar development. This process may be similar to what you may encounter during a routine cleaning appointment with your dentist or hygienist.
If your pet’s veterinarian has identified advanced dental disease in a prior examination, they may request radiographs be taken to help better assess your pet’s oral health. The technician will take digital dental radiographs so your veterinarian can visualize what is occurring at the level of the roots of the teeth. A tooth may look normal on the surface but radiographs may reveal issues that are not visually apparent otherwise.
Once cleaning and radiographs have been completed, your veterinarian will perform a thorough oral exam and evaluate all radiographs taken. At this time, they will identify any issues within your pet’s mouth while the technician records them on a dental chart. These issues may include but are not limited to: tooth mobility, fractures, root abscesses, resorptive lesions, gingivitis and bone loss.
The last step of a dental procedure, if required, are extractions. Following the oral exam, your veterinarian will call you to inform you if any teeth will need to be extracted and will quote you for the necessary dental work required. Diseased teeth will be extracted and the gum tissue will be sutured with absorbable sutures to reduce the risk of post-operative infection and to speed healing. Extractions and oral surgery are always performed by one of our licensed veterinarians.
Post-Operative Care and Monitoring
If teeth were extracted, the first step of post-operative care is to give your pet an injectable pain medication. The technician will then turn off the inhalant anesthetic gas and continue to monitor your pet. They will keep a close eye on them until they fully recover and it is time to extubate them. They will then be placed back in their cage where they will be made comfortable and remain connected to IV fluids. Once recovered from surgery, you will be called with an update and to schedule a discharge time. A close eye is kept on your pet until it is time for them to go home.
Prior to discharge, a technician will remove the IV catheter, record your pet’s heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature and also assess their mouth if they had any extractions. When you arrive, a receptionist will go over the post-operative instructions and any medications that are being sent home. You will then be reunited with your pet!
Follow-Up and Recheck Appointment
The day after the procedure, your veterinarian will give you a follow-up call to check in on how your pet is doing. Following surgery, we want to make sure your pet is not vomiting, lethargic, having diarrhea, and is eating/drinking appropriately. We also want to make sure that your pet is pain free! Approximately one week after surgery, your veterinarian will perform a complimentary re-check oral exam to ensure your pet’s mouth is healing properly. They will inform you if they are ready to return to their normal daily activities or if they still need a bit more time to heal.
Feel free to give us a call (519-893-8937) if you would like to book a FREE dental exam! Take advantage of additional discounts during our dental month in February!