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Dental Care

"Your Pet Needs a Dental"

Dog showing teethWhat does that mean?
It has probably happened to you or someone you know.  You take your pet to the veterinarian; they look at your pets teeth and tell you your pet needs a dental.  A price is often quoted and either you make an appointment or because you are confused and worried about the risks you don’t make the appointment and go on your way.  This guide will help you understand what is being recommended and why.

What is a dental?
Veterinarians are guilty of using a shorthand way of describing a procedure that is very important to your pet’s health and should encompass a group of diagnostic procedures and medical procedures that improve your pet’s health and relieve oral pain.

Anesthesia:  Almost everyone cites anesthesia as their biggest concern and number one reason to not pursue dental work.  It is natural to be concerned about your pet and there is some risk with anesthesia but if you do not have dental work done in a timely manner your pet could suffer with infection, constant pain, some types of heart disease, and some cases of kidney disease as a result of their dental disease.  Many will die as a result of complications from what started as a simple dental problem.  There is much lower risk of serious anesthesia complications than the risk of serious complications from untreated dental disease.  Lakewood Animal Hospital is also concerned about anesthesia and using good technique reduces the risk substantially.

Oral Examination:  You may think this was already done on your initial visit but nothing replaces a careful examination once the pet is relaxed during the period of anesthesia.  This times allows for examination of the tissues around the teeth, the roof of the mouth and the tissue pockets around each tooth.

Dental Scaling:  This is the removal of the tartar (a yellowish-brown crust) and calculus (off white mineralized crust) from the teeth.  The visible tooth is scaled as well as under the gum where the most dangerous disease hides.  According to where you are working on the tooth, scaling is done with an ultrasonic scaler or hand instruments.

A Golden Retriever SmilingPolishing:  Using a low speed handpiece and dental paste the teeth are polished to remove microscopic irregularities in the tooth surface to prevent even faster build up of tartar than occurred before the dental scaling.

The above constitutes a ‘routine dental’ but a majority of patients need more than the above care.  Below is listed additional care that may be recommended to provide your pet with the best care.

Dental Radiographs (X-Rays): Dental disease occurs under the gum line.  That is why your dentist does radiographs and that is why your pet needs them.  It can help us tell when your pet needs an extraction or when the tooth can be saved.  A tooth that needs extraction due to a root abscess that is not visible to the naked eye could be left behind to cause your pet unnecessary pain and discomfort. Dental radiographs can also find early disease that would allow treatment other than extraction.  The use of dental radiography is more commonly used every year in our profession but is still not a standard practice in veterinary medicine.

Extractions:  Extractions are an unfortunate reality when periodontal disease has gone beyond a certain point or when a tooth has fractured exposing the central pulp of the tooth.  If a fractured tooth is a good candidate for salvage, we also encourage referral to a qualified veterinary dentist for root canal therapy.

Specialty Care:  As was mentioned above, we encourage the use of a qualified veterinary dentist for root canals and special peridontal therapy.  A Board Certified Veterinary Dentist is a veterinarian who has obtained advanced training beyond regular licensure and has passed certification exams demonstrating exceptional competency and skill in the diagnosis and treatment of oral disease in pets.  Although we have made extensive investment in training and equipment for dental care, we provide basic dental careWe need to refer you for specialty care (with a specialist) for more complicated cases.

For additional information about Dental Care for your pet, visit Oral ATP by clicking on the logo below!