Your pet’s visit with the veterinarian is about a lot more than having white teeth, as many dental issues occur beneath the gum line. Let’s take a step-by-step look at what we do when your pet comes into our veterinary clinic for a dental procedure and why it is important:
- Our trained veterinary team begins the dental procedure with a thorough oral exam, including the animal’s gums, tongue, lips, and all tissue surfaces. If any concerning abnormalities are identified (infection, lumps, foreign objects) the specifics are carefully recorded in the patient’s chart and the veterinarian will speak to you about possible options and recommendations.
- The patient’s teeth are also carefully examined by the veterinarian. The Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) records the condition of all teeth on a dental chart, allowing the team to monitor and trend any changes or developments over time. This can include missing teeth, progression of periodontal disease, gingivitis, and cavities. Abnormalities requiring immediate attention will be reviewed with the owner by phone.
- The RVT’s scale and polish your pet’s teeth using the same kinds of instruments as your dental hygienist. We carefully clean all tooth surfaces, including those hard-to-reach back molars and the more hidden areas of the teeth below the gumline. Cleaning below the gumline is considered veterinary medicine, and can only be performed under general anesthesia with the supervision of a veterinarian. Bacteria below the gumline cause periodontal disease, the main cause of early tooth loss, and it is very important to thoroughly clean this area.
- Dental radiographs are always included in our oral health care plan, as they are vital in identifying the many issues that can occur below the gumline. Issues such as tooth root abnormalities, bone loss, periodontal disease/infection, and many tumours can only be diagnosed with X-rays.
- Once full mouth dental radiographs are completed by the RVT, the veterinarian thoroughly assesses each view to determine which teeth, if any, require extraction. If there is anything of concern on the radiographs, the veterinarian will call you to discuss the specifics. If required, dental extractions would then be performed with the addition of a local anesthetic (“freezing”) and proper, minimally-traumatic surgical technique.
- During your pet’s discharge appointment, the RVT will review the oral findings, as well as any post-operative medications and plans. We will also make recommendations for you to support your pet’s dental health at home through daily teeth brushing, and possibly a prescription oral care diet.
- We encourage you to take an active role in your pet’s oral health, and to contact us any time with questions or concerns. We are always here to help.