National Pet Dental Month
Dental Prophylaxis and Treatment at North Ogden Animal Hospital
We perform dental cleaning and polishing to prevent dental disease. This is recommended yearly in pets that have consistent in-home care and proper diet. Cats require about 15-20 minutes under anesthesia and dogs require 30-40 minutes. Price varies depending on age and size of pet. We will provide you with an estimate tailored to your pet's individual situation. This price includes hospitalization, pre-medication, human grade anesthesia induction, monitoring during anesthesia, dental scaling above and below the gum line,. comprehensive evaluation of each tooth, polishing and fluoride application. If further dental treatment is anticipated we will give you an approximate estimate. Our goal is to get and maintain a healthy and comfortable mouth for your pet.
Dental disease starts with the accumulation of plaque. If plaque remains for 48 hours it turns into a rock hard substance called tartar. Plaque can be removed by brushing. Tartar can only be removed by scaling. At first the gums (gingiva) will become red and then swollen. Most pets will have no symptoms, but sometimes they will drool, hesitate while eating, or stop eating dry food. Bacteria infect the area causing bad breath. Periodontitis (the progressive loss of bone surrounding the teeth) soon develops. Bone loss is irreversible. If it is allowed to continue, the tooth/gum will be painful and eventually the tooth will loosen and fall out. Bone infections can be severe enough to cause fractures or abscesses that drain onto the face or into the nose. As the pet eats, bacteria can enter the bloodstream through the inflamed tissue and damage other organs such as liver, heart or kidneys. In addition, airborne bacteria are continually inhaled, leading to lung problems.
There are many reasons that dental disease can develop. Small breeds are more prone to accumulate tartar and develop severe bone infections sooner than large breeds. Genetics can play a large role. Just as with some people who tend to get cavities more readily than others, some pets are prone to dental problems. Our recommendations include daily brushing, dry food (preferably T/D), tartar control chews, and/pr daily antibacterial rinses. We do not recommend offering bones since they commonly cause fractured teeth. We would be happy to tailor a plan to you and your pet's temperament.
The following is a summary of what services we can provide your pet. Each pet's needs will be different and we will provide you with an estimate of our recommendations based on a thorough physical exam of your pet.
Pre-anesthetic physical exam. We will listen for heart murmurs, abnormal rhythms, or abnormal lung sounds. We will alert you if irregularities exist. Chest x-rays or an ECG may be recommended. We will educate you about specific risk factors your pet may have and the tools we will use to minimize those risks.
Pre-anesthetic blood screen. Not all conditions are readily detectable on a physical exam. By completing a prescreen in a pet less than 7 years and a complete blood screen in a pet greater than 7 help us detect and treat problems even before your pet shows signs of illness. If any significant abnormalities are found we will contact you. It is preferable, but not required, to have this completed before the day of the dental.
Intravenous fluids. Just as is standard with human medicine, we use IV fluids to help maintain blood pressure during anesthesia, prevent dehydration, shorten the recovery period and provide access for injections without stress. IV fluids are especially valuable for elderly patients (older than 7 years) or those with kidney problems.
Blood Pressure and ECG (Heart) Monitoring. These advanced monitoring tools allow us to fine-tune our anesthetic levels making anesthesia safer for your pet. These are the same tools human anesthesiologists us on us!
General Anesthesia. We induce general anesthesia with an injection then then place a tube in your pet's windpipe. This protects their lungs from the fluid generated by teeth cleaning and allows us to assist their breathing if needed. Our anesthetic protocols are designed to be as safe as possible and are individually planned base on your pet's size, health, breed and age. We provide warmth during the procedure via several methods. We continue to monitor and warm them during recovery.
Scaling and evaluation. We will remove the tartar above and below the gum line using a state of the art ultrasonic scaler. Each tooth and surrounding gum will be evaluated.
Dental x-rays. Since pets can't tell us if they are in pain, we rely heavily on dental x-rays to help us decide if the root and the surrounding bone is healthy (try telling your dog that you have a dull ache in the left side of your mouth). X-rays are indicated if there is any evidence of neck lesions (painful cavity-like lesions on the neck of the tooth), bone loss, gum inflammation, fractured or discolored teeth or after dental extractions.
Extractions. Our goal is to resolve painful conditions experienced by your pet. This may require the removal of teeth which cannot be salvaged. Pets do amazingly well afterwards. We use the most current equipment and extraction techniques to minimize trauma and promote rapid healing. Within a few weeks the once painful site is replaced by hard gum tissue. With very painful conditions, often pet owners remark to us that within a few days their pets are feeling better than they have in years. Even those pets with no teeth left often continue to eat dry food without difficulty. If your pet has had major extractions, we often recommend that they be hospitalized overnight on IV fluids. They are given any pain medications or antibiotics that are needed and kept warm and are kept comfortable. They typically go home the next morning, well rested and hydrated.
Fractured teeth. If we identify fractured teeth with pulp exposed on the inside of the tooth, our recommendation is extraction or root canal therapy. If the pulp has been exposed, the body can never wall it off completely and bacteria will continue to travel down through the tooth root, causing nerve pain and infection. A large percentage of fractured teeth will progress to an abscess. This may go undiagnosed for years if dental x-rays are not taken. We are happy to refer you to a veterinarian who performs root canals if you desire to save the tooth.
Pain control. We use several methods to control any discomfort associated with the dental procedure. If there were extractions, you can expect your pet to show some tenderness for a few days and we will prescribe meds to help. Local anesthetic blocks (just as are used in human dentistry) allow us to use lower doses of general anesthetic and provide hours of pain control during your pets recovery. We will prescribe pain medications for a few days afterward if teeth were extracted. Your pet’s comfort is very important to us!
Polishing and fluoride treatment. After cleaning, the mouth is flushed with an antibacterial solution and examined for completeness of cleaning. The teeth are then polished smooth to slow tartar accumulation. A fluoride application decreases sensitivity of teeth and also slows tartar buildup.
Follow-up. We will discuss any special care after anesthesia when you pick up your pet. Tartar begins accumulating within days after a dental cleaning and we will help you make a home care plan that works for you and your pet. Brushing can be started one week after a simple dental. Home care can make a profound difference in the health of your pet’s mouth, and greatly decrease the cost of further dental treatments.