- We strive to provide complete care for our patients. Learn more about all the services we provide.
Q: Why can’t my pet’s teeth be cleaned without anesthesia?
A: Anesthesia-free dentistry does not allow for probing or thorough examination of ALL teeth in the mouth…cats have 30 teeth and dogs have 42!! It also does not allow for dental radiographs (xrays) to be taken. Avoiding these critical procedures can mean that significant disease below the gumline can be missed and not treated correctly. Also, when a patient is intubated under anesthesia, the endotracheal tube prevents harmful bacteria from getting into the respiratory tract during cleaning.
Q: Why are dental xrays necessary?
A: Dental radiographs (xrays) are part of a complete oral exam and assessment. Two thirds of the total size of each tooth is under the gumline, and cannot be visualized without radiographs. This means that up to two thirds of the disease in the mouth may be missed if radiographs are not performed. A tooth may look “normal” above the gumline, but the radiographs reveal otherwise!
Q: Why does my pet have to arrive so early in the morning for his/her procedure?
A: All patients who will be anesthetized on a given day are asked to arrive early to the hospital for pre-op procedures including bloodwork, placement of IV catheters, and physical exams. A custom anesthetic protocol is then created for each individual patient. Only then is the patient order of operation determined. Typically the sterile surgical procedures are performed first followed by the dental procedures, but this is not always the case. We insure that patients are resting comfortably and quietly in their cages in the surgical ward of the hospital, even if it is for several hours prior to their procedure.
Q: Why did it take so long to extract one tooth?
A: Tooth extractions, especially when a tooth is not loose to begin with, are oral surgical procedures. Proper surgical techniques to access and remove a tooth are utilized. First, a gingival flap (incision in the gums) is made over the affected tooth. Next, any multi-rooted teeth must be sectioned into individual pieces. Surrounding alveolar bone is removed with a high-speed bur. Dental elevators are used to then loosen the tooth and carefully extract it. A 3-rooted tooth is like performing 3 separate extractions! Post-extraction radiographs are taken to insure that all parts of the tooth were removed successfully. The dental socket is then smoothed and irrigated and the gingival flap is closed with absorbable suture. With all this, it is not unusual for a single tooth extraction to take an hour or longer, just for the extraction itself!
Q: How will my pet eat after he/she has had so many teeth extracted?
A: Most pets with periodontal disease and painful teeth are not really using these teeth to chew their food anyway. Many of them are swallowing their dry food whole, chewing on the opposite side of the mouth from the affected tooth/teeth, or refusing to eat dry food at all. Once these painful teeth are removed they actually have an easier time eating and some of them even use their now healthy gums to soften and chew their kibbles! If absolutely necessary a pets’ kibble can be moistened with water or broth, or they can be fed canned food.