What to expect with your pet’s dentistry

By January 20, 2015

Thank you for choosing Leander Veterinary Clinic to provide your pet’s dental care. In preparation for your visit, we would like to go over some basic information so you will be better informed about your pet’s needs.

First, a little background. Periodontal therapy is typically composed of 2-4 stages.

  1. Dental Prophylaxis. This is what most people are referring to with a dental cleaning, or a “dental”. It involves scaling and polishing the teeth, a complete oral exam and charting of the teeth.
  2. Periodontal Surgery. This is needed for patients with dental disease that has advanced below the gum line and is affecting the deeper tissue.
  3. Extraction. This may be necessary for teeth that are fractured, dead, or so diseased that it is impossible to resolve the pain and infection otherwise.
  4. Home Care. As with people, pets require some form of regular dental care at home to maintain good dental health. We will discuss this with you upon discharge of your pet.

All of these steps, except home care require general anesthesia. It simply is not possible to clean under the gum line safely or thoroughly without anesthesia. While there is some inherent risk with anesthesia, there are also risks of delaying dental care. It is for this reason that a great deal of effort is made and precautions taken to make anesthesia as safe as possible for your pet.

Next, a little information about the schedule for the day. We ask that you bring your pet in between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. the morning of the procedure. Unless specifically instructed to do so by your veterinarian, do not give you pet anything to eat the morning of the dental. Water is OK, though. If your pet has eaten, please let us know.

We will do a physical exam and any preanesthetic lab work before your pet’s procedure. If any problems are found, we will call you to discuss them before deciding whether to proceed with the dental. Once your pet is anesthetized, we will clean and polish the teeth and examine the mouth for any problems. At this point dental x-rays may be taken to further evaluate for disease beneath the gum line. If any problems are identified, we may need to speak with you, either in person or over the phone, about what treatment is necessary. While we try to anticipate any problems requiring treatment prior to the dental cleaning, it simply is not possible to see everything until you pet is anesthetized and the teeth fully cleaned. Please understand that it is very common to identify further problems that may not have been previously apparent.

If additional work is required we will either revise the estimate you were given before your visit, or prepare you another estimate to address the problems at another date. If we are not completing all of the dental work on the first procedure, it is critical to schedule the next step soon so disease is not allowed to progress further. Our primary concern when formulating a treatment plan for your pet is what is safest and most comfortable for them. We also structure the price of dentistry such that there is usually not a significant difference in cost whether the work is done all at the same time or completed on a follow-up procedure.

After your pet is awake from anesthesia, we will call you to inform you of how your pet is doing. Generally, we discharge our dental patients between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m. Upon pickup, please allow a few minutes to discuss what was done, go over any medications and schedule any follow-up appointments that may be needed. It is typical for your pet to be a little groggy the evening after their procedure. If you pet is not back to normal by the next morning, or is experiencing any adverse symptoms, please let us know right away. We want you to understand your pet’s dental needs and what is being done to help them, so please ASK QUESTIONS.

Thank you and we look forward to seeing you and your pet very soon!